Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2012. Rated PG
Synopsis: For the last 30 years, Ralph has been wrecking the same building inhabited by Nicelanders only to have it be fixed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. in the same game, Fix-It Felix, Jr. and quite frankly, he’s fed up. He doesn’t want to watch Felix get all of the medals and be left out of all the parties any more. Despite being told that even though he is a bad guy it does not mean that he is a bad guy, Ralph leaves his game to earn a medal that will make the people of Niceland be, well, nicer. And even though he does earn his medal, he soon finds himself facing a permanent ‘Game Over’ when he brings a bug from one arcade game to another. Will a ‘glitch’ from a candy go-kart racing game be enough to help him save the arcade?
It took me long enough to finally getting around to watching this, and I think it’s probably one of the better movies that Disney has put out in the last couple of years. Like any good kid’s movie, it has its share of little kid humor, but most of the jokes are aimed at the parents that are accompanying them. Sure, a good portion of the comedy comes from the understanding that arcade games used to be really pixilated compared to the latest and greatest CGI (of which Felix makes note when he meets Calhoun) and I’m pretty sure that half of the attendees at the Bad-Anon meeting will be (for the most part) unrecognizable to anyone under the age of 18, but that isn’t really what makes the film so charming. For me, watching Ralph struggle with who he is and trying to find a way to prove he is more than just a guy that wrecks things is what sells it because it’s something to which we can relate. It makes us keep cheering for Ralph even when he can’t seem to fix any of the damage that he has caused. And really, how many movies have we seen where the bad guy is actually the hero, not the hero? This is a family film that has appeal for all ages that calls back those endless happy hours of playing Pac-Man or struggling to make the Atari work and proves that retro in some form is always in style.