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Originally published November 1, 2012 at 12:04 AM | Page modified November 1, 2012 at 10:40 AM

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Corrected version

'Wreck-It Ralph': Disney powers up a winner

A movie review of Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph," an agreeable tale of friendship and heroism, charmingly told and expertly animated. Set in the world of video games, it follows a gorilla-armed "bad guy" (John C. Reilly) intent on winning a medal that will make him a hero in his colleagues' eyes.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3.5 stars

'Wreck-It Ralph,' with the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling. Directed by Rich Moore, from a screenplay by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee. 93 minutes. Rated PG for some rude humor and mild action/violence. Several theaters.

Wreck-It Ralph (Trailer)

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Bursting with candy-bright colors and zoomy action, Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph" should prove as entertaining as a sugar rush for its young target audience. Set in the world of video games (there's even a pastel-toned game called "Sugar Rush," populated mostly by squeaky-voiced little girls and smilingly cherubic candies), it's an agreeable tale of friendship and heroism, charmingly told and expertly animated. The 7-year-old accompanying me was fascinated throughout and later said that he loved it, particularly the happy ending.

Ralph, our hero (voiced agreeably by John C. Reilly), is the gorilla-armed "bad guy" for the '80s video game Fix-It Felix, in which a cheery guy with a hammer (Jack McBrayer) endlessly trills out "I can FIX it!" while tootling around the buildings of Niceland. Ralph's job is to wreck things so that Felix can fix them, but Ralph's discouraged that nobody recognizes that he's actually a nice guy, and that he's very good at his job. His Bad-Anon support group (a funny gathering of video-game bad guys, but a concept likely to glide over small children's heads) isn't much help, so Ralph sets off on a quest across an arcade full of video games, intent on winning a medal that will make him a hero in his colleagues' eyes.

It's a pretty familiar storyline, but in a setting both nostalgic (remember Pac-Man?) and up-to-the- moment, and it's filled with the kind of clever throwaway moments that keep accompanying adults happy. (My favorite: a "Wizard of Oz" reference that's ridiculously perfect, and that I wouldn't dream of spoiling.)

The voice cast is just right, particularly Sarah Silverman's unique, squeaky combination of adorable/nails-on-chalkboard-irritating as Sugar Rush heroine Vanellope von Schweetz, who has a wee problem with pixilating. Listen carefully for Mindy Kaling, sardonically funny in a very small role.

"Wreck-It Ralph" is fairly high-concept, as kid movies go (like video games, there are a lot of rules), but even those who know little of gaming will enjoy the details of the worlds it depicts. Characters in the Fix-It Felix game move with an old-school, scuttling bounce; while the more up-to-date denizens of Sugar Rush and the war game Hero's Duty (the dark sci-fi world that Ralph must invade to win his medal) whoosh about with 21st-century precision. Though it left this grown-up critic craving candy by its end, "Wreck-It Ralph" is a delightful journey.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Information in this article, originally published Nov. 1, was corrected Nov. 1. A previous version of this story said "Wreck-It Ralph" was from Pixar. It is a Disney film.

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