Rich Moore's digitally animated comedy about arcade video games is a mash-up of Toy Story and Tron (both now in the Disney stable, as is this film). When the arcade is closed, the game characters "come to life," free from the confines of their narratives to move around and socialize. But off-work time is tougher for the games' bad guys, like Wreck-It Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly), who are shunned in favor of the more heroic characters, such as Ralph's co-gamer Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer).
So Ralph walks out of his game, hoping to be a hero in another, and unleashes all sorts of cross-game chaos. Most of the action moves to Sugar Rush, a candy-themed racing game. There, Ralph befriends a smart-mouthed character named Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), who, due to her "glitch" status, isn't allowed to participate. (How likely is it that they'll be able to help each other?)
It's a plus for me when animation takes us somewhere impossible, such as inside a world made of candy, or makes the secret realm of game characters seem real. Kids will likely be captivated by all the cartoony color and action, but the best jokes will be for the old heads who remember when you needed a quarter to play a video game. Jokes about Q*bert, arcade machines and the general Tron-ness of the plot are for the wistful, bemused adults.
On the downside, the film was about 15 minutes too long, and would have been just as funny and charming without all the poop jokes. (Also, your tolerance for Silverman's snarky little-girl voice may affect your enjoyment.) I shudder to think how many toys, lunchboxes, bedsheets and so on this marketing-friendly film will generate. Lastly, in select theaters, the film screens in 3-D, but there's something weird about seeing your old 8-bit-graphics buddies in such a modern presentation, so choose wisely.