Wreck-It Ralph isn’t a Pixar movie, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is: Pixar’s John Lasseter, who now oversees Disney’s animation division, is the executive producer, and the storyline about a video-game character looking for redemption is reminiscent of Pixar’s immersive style. The world-building in Wreck-It Ralph is excellent, with a video-game take on the Toy Story formula, as the characters in an arcade full of games interact with each other at night when the arcade is closed.
The plotting is not as strong, however. The title character (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the villain in a classic 8-bit game, in which he wrecks a building and the heroic Fix-It Felix Jr. (30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer) fixes it. Feeling unappreciated, Ralph ditches his game to attempt to become a hero, first in violent first-person shooter Hero’s Duty, then in a candy-coated racing game called Sugar Rush, where he meets precocious (and irritating) little girl Vanellope (Sarah Silverman).
The filmmakers can’t seem to decide whether the movie is about Ralph and Vanellope’s friendship, or Ralph’s quest for redemption, or the battle against Sugar Rush’s despotic King Candy, or the threat of the bug-like menaces from Hero’s Duty. It ends up being about all of those things and more, which means that the story often feels jumbled and unfocused. But the details of the video-game world are intricate and wonderfully realized, including clever cameos from a number of recognizable characters. Wreck-It Ralph isn’t a Pixar movie, but it has enough going for it to be considered for honorary status.