Following the release of Tangled
in 2010, Walt Disney Animation Studios announced a hiatus from princess movies. Rich Moore’s Wreck-It Ralph
is the entertaining result. John C. Reilly voices the title character, a villain in an 8-bit arcade game called Fix-It Felix Jr
. In the world behind the arcade screen, Ralph isn’t a villain; he’s just a guy working a thankless 9-to-5 job. He gets tossed in the mud every day and can never win a medal. The film opens with Ralph in a support group for villains, including Bowser, Zangief and Clyde from Pac-Man
—a few of many cameos by beloved game characters. Ralph’s irrepressible need for validation in the form of a medal leads him into an Area 51
-style shooter game before culminating in a high-speed race through the colorful candy world of Sugar Rush
(ridden with product placement). Along the way, Ralph bumps into Jack McBrayer recycling his 30 Rock
shtick, a gruff captain “programmed with the most tragic backstory ever” (Jane Lynch) and an obnoxious little glitch (Sarah Silverman). You don’t need to know much about old games to enjoy this alternately funny and touching film, but it rewards those who do.