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The Independent Critic

Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Adam Carolla, Brandon T. Jackson, Alan Tudyk, Dennis Haysbert, Edie McClurg, Horatio Sanz
Rich Moore
Jennifer Lee, Phil Johnston
Rated PG
108 Mins.
Walt Disney Co.

 "Wreck-It Ralph" One of the Year's Best Animated Features 
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Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) longs to be a beloved hero just like Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer), the hero and Good Guy in Fix-It Felix, Jr., the video game in which they've both existed for the past thirty years.

Just ask Denzel Washington. There's nothing more sad than a bad guy who wants to mend his ways and, unfortunately for Wreck-It Ralph, he's a bad guy. When a modern, first-person shooter game called Hero's Duty arrives that features a tough-as-nails Sergeant (Jane Lynch, Ralph finally sees an opportunity to become the heroic figure at least. He sneaks into the new game with a simple plan, to win a medal, but soon he's wrecked everything and unleashed a deadly enemy who threatens every game in the arcade. Ralph's only hope comes in the form of Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), a "glitch" from a candy-coated cart racing game called Sugar Rush who may be the one who can teach Ralph exactly what it means to be the Good Guy.

Directed by The Simpsons vet Rich Moore, Wreck-It Ralph may very well be the perfect weaving together of everything Disney and everything Pixar, Wreck-It Ralph is a delightfully humorous, shamelessly sweet and retro-colored cinematic Candyland that may very well surprise everyone by sweeping itself up a golden statuette during this coming awards season.

Yes, it really is that good.

Set in the world of video arcades, Wreck-It Ralph may very well bring to mind Pixar's Toy Story films and John Lasseter is an executive producer on the film. However, Wreck-It Ralph dials down on the intellectual themes and amps up the humor in creating a film that ultimately stands on its own. While these video games may be less enduring and endearing than were those from Toy Story, they're also funnier and I'd dare say more vibrant. John C. Reilly creates yet his latest brilliant characterization with Wreck-It Ralph, a 9' tall and 643 lb. bad guy from a beloved thirty-year-old game that never seems to go out of style. Few actors can portray a rough exterior with a sweet heart as well as can Reilly, whose scenes with Sarah Silverman's Vanellope von Schweetz are so sweet and so effective that there are moments you practically forget you're watching an animated feature.

Wreck-It Ralph is silly and sweet and exciting and just about everything a child could want from an animated feature, though the film's retro and pop culture references are more likely to delight the accompanying adults. While the film possesses all the values that Disney holds dearest, it also possesses all the intelligence and cleverness and pristine imagery that has defined Pixar since its beginnings (or at least until Cars 2). Wreck-It Ralph is most assuredly one of the best animated features of 2012 and, quite likely, would qualify as one of the year's best comedies. The film also video games while making a plea for a return to humanity, not shying away from what has been the cost of a video-obsessed society and stressing that human connection puts it all into perspective.

If this all sounds a tad heavy for a children's film, rest assured that it's not. Just like video games themselves, Wreck-It Ralph is an immersive experience and the more you find yourself able to completely surrender the more you're going to enjoy it. If, adversely, you find yourself unable to surrender your senses then this is going to be one maddening film for you.

Far from a video game junkie myself, I don't own a game console and only occasionally play online games, I still find myself reflecting fondly upon the past any time I stumble across a Pac-Man or Space Invaders game. Kids today, with all their access to 3-D enhanced graphics, will likely giggle and be amazed at the retro-looking video games contained within Wreck-It Ralph while adults will find themselves playing the games right alongside the movie.

With a tremendous script by Jennifer Lee and Phil Johnston and well-paced and surprisingly humane direction by Rich Moore, Wreck-It Ralph may very well be the first animated feature to be released during awards season for a reason.

It's a winner.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic