Wreck-It Ralph

“Wreck-It Ralph” is big fun for gamers of all ages. Gen-Xers, Gen-Y, boomers & little kids will find much to love in this Pixar-like animated feature.

Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, is the guy who wrecks things in an arcade game called Fix-It Felix. After 30 years, he’s tired of being the bad guy. Felix, voiced by Jack McBrayer, is the one who gets all the love and, at the end of each successful play of the game, a medal.

Ralph wants a medal and seeks one in a neighboring game in the arcade called Hero’s Duty where he encounters Calhoun, a violent babe with a killer bod, voiced by Jane Lynch. Once he gets the medal he escapes to another game called Sugar Rush, where he meets up with an extremely cute kid, Vanellope, voiced by Sarah Silverman. This is where the film’s plot really takes off.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is inspired by and has references to most of the great video games of the last three decades. Some of the film’s elements call to mind “Monsters, Inc.” Ralph is similar to Sully from that 2001 Pixar classic. Vanellope is not unlike any the three “Powerpuff Girls,” a Cartoon Network hit series from a decade or so ago.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is almost a Pixar film. It looks like a Pixar film. Executive producer is Pixar’s John Lasseter. There’s a memorable short cartoon before the movie. The credits mention help from the “Pixar brain trust.” And, as with Pixar films, the credits contain a list of “production babies.” Really, the only thing that keeps it from being a Pixar film is the absence of the bouncing desk lamp.

As with most Pixar films, the performances of the voice actors are uniformly excellent. The four mentioned previously, along with Alan Tudyk as King Candy, form one of the best voice ensembles in recent memory.

Among my favorite visual jokes in the film: the cops in Sugar Rush (a world populated by sweet treats) are doughnuts.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is both nostalgic and fresh, at the same time. It gets the high score for this weekend.

“The Three Stooges”—(Nyuk Nyuk’s for Nitwits)

When one’s expectations are low, a decent movie is a pleasant surprise. So it is with “The Three Stooges,” a movie that has all the elements that made the old Larry, Moe and Curly low-class humor icons.

The new Three are played by Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso. Sean Hayes (AKA Jack McFarland of “Will and Grace”) sounds so uncannily like Larry Fine that I wonder if all his lines were dubbed by another voice talent. The other two actors capture the essence of the Moe and Curly we’ve watched for over half a century.

Eye pokes, hammer whacks and other forms of physical abuse come early and often, accompanied by loud and effective sound effects. As with the old Stooges shorts, some are hilarious, others are redundant. (There’s a postscript to the movie which says, basically, “Kids, don’t try this stuff at home!”)

The movie’s story has L, M & C attempting to raise $830,000 to save the orphanage where they were raised by nuns (played by the likes of Jane Lynch and, yes, Larry David). The classic Stooge bit of making a mess of a party for a group of swells is also a turning point in the plot.

My love for the original Stooges peaked when I was still in single digits. Oh, I’ve watched them and laughed from time to time over the years, but do not consider myself a Stooges connoisseur. Hardcore Stooges fans will, I think, find the movie acceptable and enjoyable. Some may even love it.

Will kids like it? My guess is yes. Boys may enjoy it more than girls do.

I recall Jay Leno’s observation that a key difference between men and women is that men like The Three Stooges and women don’t like them. We’ll see if that holds true when the box office figures for the weekend are released.