IDENTITY CRISIS John C. Reilly voices a video game character tired of being a villain
Credit: Disney

Nostalgia has been digitized. In Wreck-It Ralph‘s byte-size universe of arcade games, a pixelated panoply of characters (both copyrighted and made-up) commingle each day after the final quarter has been dropped. But for Ralph, the bulldozer-handed villain of the 1980s arcade relic Fix-It Felix Jr., life isn’t all power-ups and extra lives. An 8-bit brute with a heart of gold, Ralph (voiced with hangdog perfection by John C. Reilly) escapes his game on a quest to prove to the world that there’s more to him than just being bad. As the well-meaning Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) and a rough-and-tumble space soldier (Jane Lynch) pursue him, Ralph ends up in Sugar Rush, a racing game set in a confectionary wonderland of cotton-candy clouds, peppermint forests, and innumerable dessert puns of varying tastiness. There, he encounters a young racer named Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) whose glitchy nature invites the ire of the crazed Ed Wynn soundalike King Candy (Alan Tudyk). The story itself risks getting overly sweet at this point, but miraculously it never melts into a syrupy wash. There are more videogame cameos and winks than you can shake a Wiimote at — even the Konami Code, the gamer’s paternoster, makes an appearance — but the real success of the film is its emotional core and the relationship between the two misfits. It doesn’t quite carry the heft of Toy Story, but there’s a lot of heart packed into these zeroes and ones. B+

Wreck-It Ralph
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