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Wreck-It Ralph (2012) - Movie Review for Parents

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Wreck-It Ralph Blu-ray
Photo © Disney

Bottom line: Wreck-It Ralph presents the imaginative and comical story of a disgruntled video game character who visits different games on a quest to become a hero. The movie contains come mild rude humor, sarcasm and phrases that kids may want to imitate.

MPAA Rating: PG, for some rude humor and mild action/violence
Genre: Animated/Comedy
Guide Age Recommendation: 4+
Runtime: Approx. 93 minutes
Release Date: November 2, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph - Overview

Remember how totally rad arcades were back in the day? Well, Litwak’s Family Fun Center & Arcade brings back fond memories. Kids come here to play all kinds of games from old-school 8-bit classics to modern day first person shooters. But when the kids go home and Mr. Litwak turns out the lights and locks the door, the game characters can finally do...whatever they want.

After a long day at work, Wreck-It Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) slowly walks to his home in the junk pile and looks up at the apartment building he spends all day destroying. He sees the lights on in the apartments of the Nicelanders as they enjoy each other's company. And, he sees them congratulate Felix (voice of Jack McBrayer). Felix is the guy fixes all the destruction caused by Ralph. He's the hero of their game, Fix It Felix, Jr., and he gets all the glory. And Ralph, well he wishes he didn't always have to be the bad guy.

Finally pushed over the edge, Ralph decides to embark on a hero's quest. He travels to Game Central Station and eventually settles on a visit to the game Hero's Duty. He hopes he can win a medal in the game and finally prove his worth. Ralph's adventures in Hero's Duty cause quite a ruckus in the gaming world, and soon Felix and Sergeant Calhoun, a tough lady who leads a platoon in Hero's Duty, find themselves on their own mission to clean up Ralph's mess -- a mission Felix is quite used to.

Ralph's travels next land him in the sweet and sticky racing game Sugar Rush. Here, he meets the scrappy little racer Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman). Vanellope gives Ralph a run for his money, and soon, Ralph realizes there's something not-so-sweet about the goings on in the land of Sugar Rush. If he can get to the bottom of what's rotten in this land of confections, maybe he and Vanellope can teach everyone a little something about what true worth really means.

Wreck-It RalphPhoto © Disney

Wreck-It Ralph - Guide Review for Parents

Wreck-It Ralph transports viewers from one unique and interesting game world to another in an exciting journey that is comical, nostalgic and a whole lot of fun. Even more impressive, the the movie manages to include video game characters with distinct personality -- thanks to great writing and fabulous casting -- and it delivers a story that actually has a fairly developed and meaningful arc. Parents and kids of all ages will appreciate the journey through the world of video games and the clever comedy and classic references sprinkled throughout.

Wreck-It Ralph does contain quite a bit of mild rude humor -- lots of little phrases and sarcastic dialogue that kids will very likely want to imitate. Like the scene in the trailer, for example, when Ralph asks Vanellope, "Why are you so freakishly annoying?" The movie also contains some potty humor.

I will say this, though (and it's something I never thought I would say), even the rude humor is nicely done. Most of the humor is obviously not there just to rope kids in with a bunch of fart jokes; the humor is pointed and generally cleverly executed. Or, maybe I'm just saying that because the particular scene I'm thinking of had me laughing to the point of tears. And yes, my kids loved the scene as well, and they do repeat it every time they're reminded of it.

The movie also contains some violence. Most of the high action violence is in video game context and occurs against Cy-bugs. There is one sad scene, however, when the other cute little racers deliver a not-so-cute thrashing to Vanellope and her car. The scene is quite mean, and some young children may be briefly disturbed or confused by the cruelty exhibited by these sweet-looking little kids. If you want more details about possibly offensive or scary content in the movie, please see the overview below.

Wreck-It Ralph - Content Overview

*May contain spoilers.

  • Violence (High): Wreck-It Ralph contains some video game style violence involving soldiers using machine guns against a massive attack of Cy-Bugs. In one scene, a group of little racers beat up on another racer and destroy her car. The near destruction of a game involves a large-scale battle which includes a significant amount of gunfire and some explosions.
  • Scary Scenes (Medium): Young kids may be frightened by content listed under "violence." Young kids may be scared for some characters who experience various moments of peril. Most of the peril is relatively mild, but one character is temporarily in danger of being locked in a game that is being destroyed.
  • Sex/Nudity (Low): Some jokes containing mild innuendo are made. Sergeant Calhoun uses phrases like don't "go pee pee in your big boy pants," or "flattery don't charge these batteries." Two characters kiss.
  • Drugs and Alcohol (Low): One of the Nicelanders is always shown drinking or mixing what looks just like a martini.
  • Language (Low): Some rude words like "idiot," "moron," and "butt" or "buttload" are used.
  • Disrespectful/Imitative Behavior (Extreme): This movie contains a ton of sarcastic or otherwise rude exchanges and phrases. Sergeant Calhoun uses several phrases like, "The kitten-whispers and tickle fights stop now!" She tries to sound extremely rough and tough as she leads her platoon of soldiers. Ralph has kind of a sarcastic and wry sense of humor. He says he hates another character, and he calls another character a brat. Lastly, Vanellope is a scrappy little girl who loves to tease and mock Ralph. She says a few of the rude words described above. She and Ralph love to exchange many insults like, "See ya later President Fart Feathers."
Vanellope from Sugar RushPhoto © Disney

  • Sad/Unsettling Scenes (Medium): Ralph experiences feelings of loneliness and sadness. The other characters in his game treat him like an outcast and a misfit. Vanellope experiences these same feelings, and other characters are outwardly mean to her. She lives all alone, like Ralph.
  • Movie Topics Kids Might Have Questions About: video games, free will, misfits or outcasts, mean behavior,

Wreck-It Ralph - Activities for Kids

Disclosure: The studio provided a free screening of this movie for review purposes. Travel and expenses were also provided for a press trip including interviews and demos. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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