Wreck-It Ralph

Movie review by
Kelly Schryver, Common Sense Media
Wreck-It Ralph Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Game-themed movie mixes potty humor with strong messages.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 68 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 162 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids are introduced to tech terms and concepts like game code, consoles, and avatars.

Positive Messages

Characters show integrity and learn to embrace the way they're programmed, rather than change themselves for others. Characters also discover the importance of empathy and walking a mile in someone else's shoes before judging them. Themes of inclusivity/exclusivity and selflessness/selfishness are woven throughout the story in many ways. Teamwork, perseverance, and self-control are additional themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ralph's quest for peer approval turns into a journey about becoming proud of who he is and what he's able to contribute. He doesn't let his official "bad guy" status overshadow the qualities that make him good: He's compassionate, resourceful, and sticks up for the underdog. Despite her potty-mouth insults, Vanellope is a spunky, clever, and determined character. In a game that's stereotypically girly, she challenges the status quo. She finds a way to channel her "defectiveness" as a game "glitch" into something positive.

Violence & Scariness

In one scene, a first-person shooter video game comes to life. Characters from this game (who are more realistic looking than some of the others) fire big guns at aliens, which end up invading other games. In a brief and comic-toned scene, a character impulsively grabs a zombie's heart out of his chest, but no real damage is done. In another flashback, a character is eaten by an alien bug. Calhoun and Ralph are the most aggressive characters; they occasionally punch others and destroy their surroundings. Cautionary tales about characters' deaths (if a character dies in a game outside of their own, they can't regenerate) and homelessness (games that are put out of order) may be upsetting to younger kids. One character does die, but it's in his own game, so he regenerates.

Sexy Stuff

Two game characters fall in love and get married. They exchange a smooch, as well as a more passionate kiss in another scene. One iconic game character, a male wrestler, wears only his underwear. In one scene, Ralph disrobes an unconscious space commander to steal his suit.


Rude humor and frequent name-calling includes insults like "I hate you," "shut your chew hole," "brat," "pussy willows," "doody," and "numbskull." The song "Shut Up and Drive" by Rihanna plays during one scene. Other iffy language includes "frickishly" and "butt load."


Iconic video game characters -- like Pac-Man, Bowser, and Sonic the Hedgehog -- make cameo appearances. There are also many references to candy/cookie/sweets brands (Oreo, Devil Dogs, NesQuick, Laffy Taffy, Mentos, etc.).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene, a game character pours himself a martini. Another scene takes place in a game called Tappers, in which characters drink root beer from beer mugs. Characters are also briefly seen drinking at a dance party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wreck-It Ralph brings video games to life in a way that will appeal to both kids and adults. The story is about a "bad guy" who deserts his classic arcade game to prove that he's not so bad after all, turning Disney's animated adventure into the tale of an underdog searching for a new identity. The movie is accurate in the way it presents popular games/game genres, so you can expect some action-packed scenes, especially in the parts of the movie that take place in a first-person shooter game (guns, aliens, etc.). Game characters can die, but it's only permanent if it happens outside their home game. In one scene presented comically, someone grabs a zombie's heart out of its chest. There's also a little bit of drinking and kissing -- and a fair amount of potty humor/language ("butt," "doody," etc.) -- amid the movie's deeper messages about identity, compassion, loyalty, and challenging the status quo.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byWill Mansfield August 26, 2018

AWESOME. However might be too violent and scary for the youngest viewers.

Wreck It Ralph is a cooly animated, nostalgic movie. It has a great plot with an ideal plot change and a surprised twist. It brings all your favourite game char... Continue reading
Parent Written byerinw2 October 20, 2014
Teen, 15 years old Written byNo Name, for real. March 15, 2013

Game movie mixes rude humor with strong messages.

This movie is the smartest animated movie I've seen in a long time, it's go great characters, funny humor, and a clever plot. However some stuff migh... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old December 27, 2012

AMAZING MOVIE!!! (but intense near the end)

A great film with funny appearances by old school game characters and great graphics! A bit sad towards the end, but nonetheless, a AMAZING movie! Go take anyon... Continue reading

What's the story?

After 30 years of playing the villain in the arcade game Fix-It Felix, WRECK-IT RALPH (voiced by John C. Reilly) decides he needs to prove that he has what it takes to be a good guy. He sneaks and stumbles his way into other consoles -- specifically, an alien-invasion, first-person shooter game and a Candy Land-esque racing game -- in search for a hero's medal, which he believes is his one-way ticket to being accepted within the arcade community. With the help of characters like Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), Ralph's journey becomes much more than a quest for peer validation. His friendship with Vanellope, in particular, helps him realize that, at the end of the day, there's nobody he'd rather be than himself. The DVD release includes the short film The Paperman, plus deleted scenes and other extras.

Is it any good?

Kids, adults, gamers, and tech newbies will enjoy Disney's imaginative interpretation of code, pixels, avatars, and wires, as well as the movie's many references to iconic video game characters. Like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc, Wreck-It Ralph takes place in a magical world that only exists behind closed doors -- one in which video game characters come to life in arcades after hours.

There are a few missteps: The movie could definitely have cut back on its rude humor, which sometimes overshadows Wreck-It Ralph's meaningful messages about being an underdog and discovering who you really are.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Wreck-It Ralph portrays video game violence. What's realistic? What's not? What are your family's values when it comes to violence in the media?

  • What are the movie's female characters like? Do they challenge stereotypes about girls and "girly" video games? How so?

  • Talk about the ways that Ralph and Vanellope are mistreated and misunderstood. What could other characters have done to be more inclusive and more accepting? In what ways could they have shown more compassion and empathy?

  • How do the characters in Wreck-It Ralph demonstrate perseverance and integrity? What about self-control and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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