But Ralph wants more, and takes the drastic step of switching games in search of fame and glory. First stop: “Hero’s Duty,” a violent shoot-’em-up where Sgt. Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) leads an army of warriors to annihilate cyber-bugs on a distant planet.
Ralph gets a taste of success, but at a price, unleashing a deadly force that threatens to pull the plug of every game in the arcade. That includes his next stop: “Sugar Rush,” a sickly sweet racing game in a magical kingdom ruled by King Candy (voice of Alan Tudyk).
“Sugar Rush” is filled with puns and sight gags. King Kandy’s bodyguards are two donuts called Duncan and Wynnchel, and his bloodhounds are Devil Dogs, who take care not to step in the Nesquiksand.
Ralph joins forces with an outcast, Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman). Vanellope is a “glitch,” phasing in and out due to a programming error or, as she puts it, “I have pixlexia.” She is ridiculed by her fellow racers, and lives alone in a junkyard.
Ralph can relate, and comes to Vanellope’s aid. To save the day they must overcome prejudice and embrace their differences, offering positive lessons in self-esteem for young viewers.
Along the way, older gamers in the audience will enjoy the cameos from classic video game characters such as Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, Frogger, and the forever unintelligible Q*bert.
“Wreck-It Ralph” is preceded by a charming short film “Paperman,” directed by newcomer John Kahrs, about young love in the big city nurtured by, of all things, a simple paper airplane.
The film contains mild cartoonish violence and some rude humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested, some material may not be suitable for children.
McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.