I was out of state when the 2012 “Wreck-It Ralph” came out, but, in order to better understand the sequel, “Ralph Wrecks the Internet,” I watched the fun 3D animated film which is available on Amazon Prime.
Not being a big fan of video games, I’m sure there are a lot of in-jokes that passed me by, but the story begins at the Litwak’s Family Fun Center & Arcade. Just like Pixar’s Toy Story series, when the people are gone and the arcade closes for the night the video game characters are free to travel through the electric cord into the power strip surge protector to which all the video game machines are connected.
Our titular hero, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) is not the hero of his own game, Fix-It Felix Jr. Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) is the hero who fixes all the havoc that Wreck-It Ralph wreaks on a building. The video game rewards the player for getting Felix to repairs everything with a shiny medal.
Ralph is a member of a support group for bad guys. He’s tired of being alone and unloved. While the other characters in his game live in the multi-storied building, Ralph lives at a dump.
His game is celebrating its 30th anniversary, but the rest of the characters celebrate without him. Ralph crashes the party and, in a fit of anger, crushes the celebratory cake. In jest, the mayor offers a place in the game’s social milieu if he gets a medal. But who would give him a medal?
If he can’t get a medal in his own game, then he’ll try to get one from another. Ralph goes against the rules and bails on his game, joining the first-person shooter Hero’s Duty as one of the soldiers. But he doesn’t follow algorithm orders of the game or what Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch) says and goes rogue. The players are supposed to shoot at the Cy-Bugs. The Cy-Bugs hatch and get the characteristics of what they eat and they prevent the players from entering the beacon and obtaining the meda. Instead of waiting for a player to get to the beacon, Ralph gets the medal for himself, but while there a Cy-Bug hatches and attacks Ralph. Together, the Cy-Bug and Ralph leave “Heroes Duty” and end up in another game: Sugar Rush–a candy land where cute little girls race each other in cars made out of sweets.
With Ralph missing, there is nothing for Felix to fix and so the game is marked as broken. The residents realize how important Ralph is to their lives but it is up to Felix to fix this and he goes to “Heroes Duty” to retrieve Ralph and teams up with Sergeant Calhoun.
The lesson learned is how each character helps to make the game a success and the good guys need the bad guys and bad guys in the games are not necessarily bad guys in reality. As one character notes, “Without Ralph, we’re doomed.” Of course, there is a game that was messed with and needs to be corrected. Wreck-It Ralph is just the man for the job.
This is entertaining enough, crossing and mixing game genres and animation styles and questioning our own templates of what should happen. The introduction of a new Disney princess who breaks the mold, and not so in love with the super sweetness often associated with little girlhood is in itself refreshing as well. If nothing else, the movie will help children understand when they see one actor as a bad guy in one film and later see him as a good guy. Acting is essentially all a game.