‘Wreck-It Ralph’: A 4-star Disney delight

Ralph isn’t bad. He’s just computer-generated that way.

With apologies to a famous line from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” this is pretty much the existential dilemma for Ralph, a character inside an old-school video game. He’s the bad guy, yet also the hero, of “Wreck-It Ralph,” an utterly winning animated film from Disney.

Thick-skulled, ham-handed Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, has been laboring as the bad guy in his Pac-Man-era video game so long he’s tired of the destruction (and of spending the game’s dark hours in a garbage pile, when the other characters party in a penthouse).

The movie’s premise is that these video characters can visit the other games in their arcade by passing through various interconnected cables. Ralph’s discontent leads him to adventures in a slick, violent military game and a Candy Land-style game called Sugar Rush.

The latter is a wonderfully saccharine world full of lollipop trees and chocolate rivers (and dreaded Nesquik-sand). Here Ralph teams up with a glitchy misfit girl named Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), whose programming seems slightly off.

We also meet the good guy of Raph’s game, Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer, very funny), who takes an unlikely shine to the badass heroine of the military game, Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch).

There’s also the ruler of Sugar Rush, King Candy, a character who sounds and looks suspiciously like the Mad Hatter from Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” (Alan Tudyk even imitates the actor from that film, Ed Wynn).

Although the movie has its share of slapstick gags and video-game in-jokes (it understands its audience), it isn’t a tongue-in-cheek experience in the “Shrek” vein; the movie’s hip, but not coasting on easy pop-culture jibes.

Very quietly, “Wreck-It Ralph” builds a heartfelt story that leads to a lovable conclusion.

Director Rich Moore, a veteran of “The Simpsons” and “Futurama,” has a firm grasp of how to pace the comedy so we never lose the thread of Ralph’s lonely quest, no matter how wacky the action gets.

The movie’s look is a carnival of different styles, all of them incredibly imaginative (I saw it in 3-D, but I suspect it will be equally kicky in two dimensions).

John C. Reilly’s big-lug persona makes the ideal voice for Ralph, and he occasionally tosses in just enough edge to keep the character from getting dull. As sympathetic as we get toward him, Ralph does destroy buildings, after all.

The movie’s not so much a Disney triumph as just a really neat confection. That’s plenty good enough, as it turns out.

“Wreck-It Ralph” (4 stars)

Delightful Disney animation about a video-game bad guy (voiced by John C. Reilly) who wants to be good for a change. There’s a heartfelt story wrapped inside all the candy colors and slapstick jokes, and the whole thing builds to a lovable conclusion.

Rated: PG for violence.

More in Life

New documentary chronicles Obama’s last year in White House

“The Final Year” doesn’t paint the administration in rosy colors, but it isn’t too critical either.

‘Forever My Girl’ takes a page from the Nicholas Sparks genre

The film based on a novel by Heidi McLaughlin is a well-worn tale of lost love and redemption.

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

International guitar tour led by Lulo Reinhardt stops in Edmonds

International Guitar Night, now in its 18th year, is Jan. 24 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Night Circus

The Everett brewery’s head brewer had nightmares trying to dial in its new coffee and coconut ale.

Viognier: French white grape gaining foothold in Washington

Viognier, the noble white grape of the northern Rhône Valley of France,… Continue reading

The latest on Snohomish County’s breweries, wineries and distilleries.

recreated one of those old recipes, brewing Tennant’s 1954 Gold Label Barleywine

New Cascadia Art Museum exhibit showcases mid-century designs

The exhibition includes ceramics, furniture, clothing, sculpture and jewelry from 1948 to 1966.

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Most Read