Wreck-It Ralph
2012
***
Director: Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio, Ed O’Neill

Wreck-It Ralph, the villain of 1980s arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr., is sick of being the unpopular bad guy, so he leaves the game to become a hero. Inside Sugar Rush he meets another outsider, Vanellope von Schweetz. This entertaining but derivative animation tells a funny and moving story of their friendship. The movie is a treasure trove for gaming fans as it mixes real and invented characters and displays them in different screen resolutions (although it is unclear to me why Ralph and Felix look different from the rest in their game). However, those are the clever little details. On the whole, the story is anything but original. Ralph is a brute with a heart of gold, like Shrek, and when the virtual characters come alive and move between different worlds, the parallels to Toy Story and, to a lesser extent, Monsters, Inc. are inevitable. The entire concept of the movie is steeped in nostalgia, which is never entirely believable. The screenplay by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee takes product placement to a whole new level. Followed by Ralph Breaks the Internet.