Wreck-It Ralph

2012, Walt Disney Studios

Somehow Disney managed to take an improbable premise and turn it into something quite enjoyable. Granted, the notion of computer game characters coming to life is hardly new; recall that Disney went down that road with Tron, twice, with mixed results. The trick here was to poke fun at the excesses of many of today's games—over-the-top violence, retina-searing saturated colors, and so on—while telling a surprisingly engaging story. Although the film does meander off course on occasion, one scene in particular really won me over: Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) confronts Ralph (John C. Reilly) about his "medal" by unleashing a continuous stream of potty jokes, and Ralph's wordless reaction is truly priceless. It's amazing to me how subtle, complex emotions can be conveyed so successfully in an animated character's face.

       

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Ralph Breaks the Internet

2018, Walt Disney Studios

Here's another rare sequel that bests its predecessor. While the story focuses on the touching relationship between Ralph and Vanellope, our senses are being assaulted by a searing parody of pop culture and life online; many of the jokes would be laugh-out-loud if they weren't so disturbingly on-the-nose. The voice acting is terrific across the board, but the brilliant Alan Tudyk steals the show as KnowsMore, essentially the Google search engine personified.

"I'm sorry, my autofill is a little aggressive today."

       

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