Fix-It Felix this, Fix-it Felix that. Arrgh! Wreck-It Ralph is so sick and tired of hearing all the great things about Fix-It Felix. It makes him just want to pound a building or something.
OK, fine, it's not really Felix's fault that they're programmed like they are. They both live in an arcade video game after all. And at nine feet tall and 634 pounds large, with hands the size of a small car, Ralph isn't exactly built for ballet anyway. He's supposed to bust windows and break buildings down into piles of little bits. Felix is then supposed to make it all as good as new.
But, man, it just seems so unfair.
Felix gets parties. He lives in a great building full of smiling Nicelanders. He's cheered as a hero. Felix has friends. And what does Ralph have? An old stump and a dump full of broken bricks. Try to get warm and fuzzy with that!
Wreck-It Ralph takes his concerns to his local Bad-Anon meeting, but, aw, those guys don't understand. They're video game baddies with the same problems he has, but they all seem to have found some kind of peace with being a zombie or a horned devil-guy. Boos and sneers roll off 'em like quarters out of a teenager's pocket.
One day, though, an opportunity arises for Ralph. While traveling through a power cord into Game Central Station—a power-strip gateway to all the consoles in the arcade—Ralph overhears some talk from a soldier guy in a new game called Hero's Duty. It turns out that this game has gold medals you can earn if you're particularly good.
Hmmm. A medal. That could be the bonus point he needs. If Ralph could get his rather massive hands on a medal, that would prove he's a genuinely good guy, wouldn't it? Then he might be cheered as a hero!
And so Ralph does what video game characters are told never, never, ever to do: He goes turbo and jumps into another game.
Of course, that will cause problems he doesn't expect. For if a kid drops a quarter into his machine while he's away from it, everything breaks down. No Wreck-It Ralph means no wrecking. And no wrecking means the game goes OUT OF ORDER. And getting labeled OUT OF ORDER could mean the end for everyone in his game.
Ralph is large and quick-tempered, and his anger usually results in something getting broken. But at his core he really just wants to be a nice guy who has friends. He's tired of being the villain! He wants to scrub away what you might call his male-pattern badness.
In a way, the young, tomboyish Vanellope von Schweetz has the same problem. In her Sugar Rush game (a Candy Land-like racing title) she's seen as a game "glitch" that can randomly blur out of focus and create unexpected havoc. But she wants to be more than that. She longs to be part of the actual races. Part of the friendships.
It's only when these two outcasts get together that they realize they can help each other become the kinds of people they long to be. Ralph even goes so far as to be willing to wipe his program out altogether if it'll mean he can save his new friend from danger.
Fix-It Felix and a rough-edged soldiering gal named Sergeant Calhoun turn out to be pretty self-sacrificial too. After Ralph accidentally spreads a Cy-bug virus into the Sugar Rush game, Felix and Calhoun team up to not only find Ralph, but save the game's sugary residents. In the course of things, these polar opposites fall in love.
Nice life lessons revolving around the damage deception can do and the need for not hiding sourness behind a veneer of sweetness are learned through the negative example of King Candy, the sovereign of Sugar Rush. He at first appears to be a wise ruler—expressing care for one of his subjects and saying that "the hardest part of being a king is doing what's right, no matter what." But later we find out that he's actually a pretty bitter pill to swallow.
While at the Bad-Anon meeting, Ralph calls a horned devil-looking guy "Satan." But the baddy corrects him, saying that the name's "Sateen." A (Pac-Man) ghost and a zombie are both part of that group too. During a tense moment Sergeant Calhoun spouts, "Doomsday and Armageddon just had a baby!"
A villainess sports a bit of cleavage. Calhoun is a shapely soldier who wears formfitting body armor. She and Fix-It Felix kiss (and eventually marry). One of the bad guys in Bad-Anon is a heavily muscled Russian battler who flaunts his massive bare chest, visible above his wrestler's trunks.
Most of the bims, bams and booms here are things of cartoony excess—generally aimed in the big bumbling Ralph's direction as he falls off buildings and plops into pools of sugary goo.
But there's also some third-person shooting of hundreds of large Cy-bugs in the Hero's Duty and Sugar Rush games—the large-eyed, threatening creatures splatting on impact. And there's a rule established that characters will permanently die if they're obliterated outside their own games; this adds a bit more threat on a few occasions.
The most uncomfortable moment comes in a scene shared by Calhoun and Felix: In order to draw the attention of some "laughing vines" that they need for a rescue, Calhoun hits Felix over and over again in the face. The Fix-It guy then "repairs" his injuries with his magic hammer. In the course of the repeated smacks, however, he becomes covered with raised bruises and welts. He gets a black eye and loses some teeth.
Calhoun also smacks Ralph to get his attention at various times. A Russian bad guy talks of crushing an opponent's head like a "sparrow's egg" between his powerful thighs. A villain rips a zombie's heart out as a therapy group illustration—then gives it back. Girl racers in cars made of cake and candy are pummeled and wrecked by scoops of ice cream and candy fireballs. A group of bully girls meanly break up Vanellope's car before a race. Donut cops hit Ralph with their billy clubs. Bugs puff out of existence when they hit a shaft of zapping light.
Crude or Profane Language
There are quite a few slap-your-head kinds of exclamations peppered throughout the dialogue. They include "Move your molasses!" "I'll be dipped!" "Butt-load!" "Sweet Mother Hubbard!" "Oh my land!" "Sheepers!" "Milk my duds!" "Jammity Jammer!" "Bull roar!" and "Son of a gun!" Ralph and Vanellope call each other names such as "Fartfeathers," "Diaper Baby," "Booger-face" "Hobo," "Berkerdoid," "Stinkbrain" and "Major Body Odor."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Ralph goes to a "bartender" friend for advice in a game called Tappers. (But during their conversation it's root beer that the guy serves up.) One of the Nicelanders pours himself a cocktail from a pitcher and drinks it. Sergeant Calhoun flashes back to a memory of she and her former fiancé drinking wine together during a picnic lunch.
Other Negative Elements
When it comes to perpetrating potty puns and "funnies," Vanellope and Ralph are both villains. And they're both repeat offenders. Vanellope, for example, snorts out a few "doodie" giggles over the Hero's Duty game. And she wonders if Ralph has earned his award in "wiping." She invents the word vurp as a cross between vomiting and burping. Ralph tosses in quips about "butts" and soiling himself. Sergeant Calhoun adds such sentiments as, "You wanna go pee-pee in your big boy slacks, keep it to yourself!"
The main smile here is that all these recognizable old-school arcade game residents—from an hors-d'oeuvres-gobbling Pac-Man puck to Street Fighter's Ken and Ryu—can mix and mingle in their off hours to share a root beer, have a celebratory party or maybe even work out their problems in a therapy group.
And the gold medals come from a solid little message of encouragement for kids who see themselves as oddballs or glitches in the real world. (Which just about covers everybody, doesn't it?) It's a comforting lesson that encourages friendship, maturing growth, love and self-sacrifice—the very things that can help you find, shall we say, hidden "Easter Eggs" of joy in your life.
But the chaser ghosts—taking the form of potty humor—leave behind a dotted trail of fun-wrecking crassness right through the middle of all the 8-bit gaming interactions and power-strip get-togethers. Which sounds just about "right" for a movie coming from Futurama and The Simpsons veteran Rich Moore.