Can a person transcend their destiny to become more than what they're expected to be?  Or, in simpler terms, can the bad guy in a 8-bit arcade game become a good guy?  This is the basis for Wreck-It Ralph, a cute trip through video games that was surprisingly made by Disney, not Pixar.
In Litwak Arcade, a world exists that's a blend of Toy Story and Tron where the video game characters are self-aware.  When the arcade closes, the characters relax and -- traveling through power cables -- mingle together.  Characters are discouraged from game-jumping into new games (since if they die in a different game they don't regenerate) and fear a character "going Turbo" (named after a character who left his game to jump into a new, more popular game and got them both removed).  Video game characters can see outside the games to the real world, and their biggest fear is getting permanently unplugged.  (Homeless characters like QBert sit around in-between games.)

It's the 30th anniversary of the game Fix-It Felix Jr., a game where Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) damages an apartment building, Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) repairs the building, and the residents throw Ralph off the roof.  But Ralph feels completely unappreciated -- Felix gets pies and parties, while Ralph has to sleep in a garbage dump, isn't invited to the anniversary party, and attends a villain support group -- so he leaves the game to win a medal, after which Gene (Raymond S. Persi) promises that Ralph can live in the penthouse.

Ralph winds up in a first-person shooter called Hero's Duty, where he annoys the tough-as-nails leader Calhoun (Jane Lynch), battle robotic bugs, and earns his medal.  But he soon winds up in a saccharine-filled cart racing game called Sugar Rush and the medal is lost.  A cute racer called Vanellope von Schweetz can get Ralph his medal back if she wins the race -- but she tends to glitch at inopportune times, doesn't have a vehicle, and doesn't know how to drive.  Further, the game's ruler King Candy (Alan Tudyk) is determined to keep Vanellope fro racing.  Felix goes searching for Ralph (since without him, their game gets the dreaded "Out of Order" notice), as does Calhoun, who thinks a bug that escaped with Ralph will wind up destroying Sugar Rush.

Wreck-It Ralph is a fun, light piece of entertainment.  There are plenty of elements there for those who remember when video games were outside the home, from numerous characters from the '80s to the shooter requiring eight quarters per play.  The visuals of the movie are impressive, as characters from different games mingle together (such as Calhoun being three times as tall as Felix).  The voice talent in very good: Reilly brings a rough-but-vulnerable side to Ralph as the tough guy who just wants to be loved, Silverman is the perfect brat with a heart of gold, McBrayer is perfect as the goody-goody hero (and a perfect contrast to Lynch's always-angry soldier), and Tudyk does nice comedy as the silly ruler.

Wreck-It Ralph doesn't offer many surprises (except for one plot twist) or emotional highs that mark the best animated features, but it is often funny and visually stunning.  This is an enjoyable little movie for both little kids and adults who used to plop quaters on an arcade machine to get the next turn.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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