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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By ELLEN PHAM, tb-two* movie critic, Chamberlain High
Grade: ****, 4/5 asterisks
Note to Walt Disney Animation Studios: It’s about time.
I’ll be honest, I was starting to lose faith in you. How could anything possibly live up to the childhood classics you made years ago? While Wreck-It Ralph doesn’t trump your past hits by a landslide, it certainly holds its own, making the wait worthwhile.
Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain of the arcade game Fix-It Felix Jr., where the main objective is to help Felix repair the windows that Ralph demolishes. Ralph starts to doubt whether he really wants to be a bad guy. He lives in a dump (literally), gets little recognition for his work and the other video game characters tremble in his presence. On the contrary, Felix is loved by everyone and earns several medals for his achievements. Ralph’s villain support group tells him being a bad guy doesn’t have to be miserable, but Ralph still aches for a life like Felix’s.
After crashing his game’s anniversary party, Ralph affirms that he’ll win an even better medal than Felix to prove he belongs with the good guys. His search for the gold leads him to Hero’s Duty, a game where shooting parasites is key to making it through the rounds. There he meets Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), whose tragic back-story contributes to her stern attitude. Ralph gets the gold medal he desires in Hero’s Duty, albeit by ruining a little girl’s chance of winning, but a turn of events lands him in Sugar Rush, a video game mix of Candy Land and Mario Kart. Ralph’s less-than-perfect landing lets his medal get into the hands of Vanellope von Schweetz. From then on, Ralph learns valuable lessons as he does whatever it takes to get his medal back.
Although portrayed as a villain, Ralph is inexplicably endearing and convincing as he struggles with his identity. Vanellope, the hyper, bubbly little girl who steals Ralph’s medal, could be a bit much at times but there are several scenes where it’s impossible not to find her utterly delightful. Ralph and Vanellope share a compelling hate-love relationship with a foundation of friendship that echoes in the theater.
Wreck-It Ralph uses a Toy Story premise with a video game spin. Instead of toys coming to life without human knowledge, it’s the game characters once the arcade closes. Wreck-It Ralph is profoundly original, aided by its precise attention to detail. It brings a boundless source of joy to its viewers, regardless of their ages and status as video game newbies or experts.