Ralph is the bad guy is a (fictional) 80’s video game. He does his job well, but at the end of the day when the patrons have gone home and the arcade is empty he just wants a little respect from the other characters inhabiting the game. One day he snaps and leaves his cabinet, but his goal of finding recognition brings disaster to his game, and others in the arcade.
Wreck-It Ralph is one of those films could have easily coasted along on the premise and filled 90 minutes with bland pop-culture references and fart jokes. In a film targeted at children, what more do you need? But Wreck-It Ralph decided to aim for families instead, and the result is actually a satisfying story, albeit one that ticks off the demographic boxes a little too neatly. You can just about hear a studio executive in the background saying “wait, make that character a girl. And that music should be more 90s. We just got the Nestlé account, put in a joke about Nesquik!”
That said, if anything Wreck-It Ralph skews towards the older crowd. As someone who grew up with arcades I recognised many of the referenced games but I can’t imagine many children these days knowing who Q*bert is, or even PacMan. Even the “modern” games the Ralph jumps into are fairly old, as is the concept of an arcade itself. But the concept lends itself well to lots of fish-out-of-water hijinks, I loved the amusing little details and the plot actually has a twist I didn’t see coming.
It’s not all perfect, but it is refreshing to see an entertaining film suitable for children yet interesting enough for adults.
Recommended if you like this sort of thing.