' Wreck-It Ralph'
2 1/2 stars = Average
The Oscar-nominated animated adventure focuses on a video game character who uses his sledgehammer fists to destroy whatever he can.
When we meet him, though, Ralph is feeling hurt and miffed that he wasn't invited to the 30th anniversary party of his arcade game by Fix-It Felix Jr., the hero who can repair anything with a tap of his magic golden hammer. Felix (voice of Jack McBrayer) lives in a penthouse and is beloved by the Nicelanders who also are game mainstays but Ralph (John C. Reilly) is down in the dumps in a literal dump that doubles as his home. After three decades of being the bad guy, Ralph goes rogue, in an effort to win a medal and prove he's a worthy, good guy.
He leaves the comfort of his machine and moves across multiple generations of games, encountering soldiers led by a no-nonsense sergeant (Jane Lynch) and Cy-Bugs and then a candy go-kart game, Sugar Rush.
That's where a fellow misfit, Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), resides, King Candy rules, the hills are alive with gum ball machines, the forests with candy canes and gumdrops, and Oreos function as palace guards much like the ones in "The Wizard of Oz." Ralph and Vanellope confront questions about their fates even as Sugar Rush faces some not-so-sweet outsiders.
"Wreck-It Ralph" pays tribute to famous characters, games, voices and styles but while it should become more engrossing the deeper Ralph dives into arcade arcana, the younger some of it skews.
"Wreck-It Ralph" carries a positive message about what being a hero or a glitch really means, but the movie's story and dialogue aren't as sophisticated as its design.
The extras include the whimsical, old-fashioned Oscar-winning animated short, "Paperman," which accompanied the film in theaters, deleted and alternate scenes, featurettes and commercials for the video games seen in the movie.
' The Intouchables'
3 stars = Good
Omar Sy won the Cesar (France's version of the Oscar) for his role here as an ex-convict from a housing project outside Paris who becomes the improbable but perfect caretaker for a wealthy, paralyzed aristocrat.
It is first and foremost a movie about Philippe (Francois Cluzet) who suffered a paragliding accident that left him with no feeling from his neck to his toes. He needs a caretaker with physical strength who can lift him from his bed or into a car, who can massage his legs and tug on support stockings and who can respond to his panicked breathing in the middle of the night when phantom pain strikes.
What he doesn't need or certainly want is pity, which is why the wealthy Parisian picks the most unlikely applicant to be his aide -- Driss (Mr. Sy), a streetwise native of Senegal. He gets a look at how the 1 percent live. Philippe is given a second chance at life, the ability to indulge his love of speed again, to see Paris at night and groove to Earth, Wind & Fire.
Directed and written by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano and based on a true story, it's a dramatic comedy that is not sappy or sloppily sentimental. It demonstrates the perils and rewards of risk and is anchored by two excellent performances, one big, one contained.
The story, based on the life of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, was told in a French documentary and then, a book called "A Second Wind" by the real Philippe.
' Red Dawn'
1 1/2 stars = Bad
The original "Red Dawn" was the first movie with a PG-13 to open in theaters after a re-evaluation of the ratings system that summer. It dramatized Russian and Cuban troops parachuting into Colorado, where high school students turned into freedom fighters.
In the remake of that 1984 film with Patrick Swayze, the North Koreans are cast as the villains, although a Russian counterinsurgency specialist shows up after the kids prove surprisingly formidable.
Chris Hemsworth is Jed Eckert, a Marine who served in Iraq and is home on leave. His younger brother, Matt (Josh Peck), is the quarterback on his high school team, and the men's widowed father is a police officer.
When Spokane comes under attack, Jed emerges as the leader of youthful ragtag rebels (the Wolverines) who master weaponry in a ridiculously short period of time.
"Red Dawn" has a small, cheap feel to it, and generally proves absurd at every turn. Even the normally dependable Mr. Hemsworth, aka Thor, is stuck with a largely one-note character.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
• "Seven Year Hitch": Two best friends discover they are legally married.
• "Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess": Animated series featuring the youngest Disney princess.
• "NOVA: Inside the Megastorm": A look at the impact of Hurricane Sandy.
• "Harry O: The Complete Second Season": Detective TV drama starring David Janssen.
• "Regular Show: Party Pack Volume 3": Features 16 episodes from all three seasons of the Emmy-winning animated series.
• "Midnight Stallion": A young girl and her family are rescued from their financial struggle by an unexpected guest.
• "Playing for Keeps": A man returns home to rebuild a relationship with his son. Gerard Butler stars.
• "Interview with a Hitman": Luke Goss plays an elite hitman who tries to erase his past.
• "She-Wolves: England's Early Queens": Documentary explores the lives of seven English queens.
• "Tom and Jerry: Pint-Sized Pals": Includes 30 shorts.
• "Power Rangers: Clash of the Red Rangers -- The Movie": The Red Rangers go head to head.
• "Ben 10 Omniverse: A New Beginning": Ben's a little older but not always a little wiser.
• "Barney: Play With Barney": Barney teaches the importance of being a team player.
• "Murdoch Mysteries Collection, Seasons 1-4": Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) investigates the most challenging cases.
• "Muay Thai Warrior": Young Japanese samurai faces warriors he once regarded as brothers.
• "Schindler's List 20th Anniversary Limited Edition": Includes feature on Oskar Schindler.
• "A Nightmare on Elm Street": Blu-ray collection includes seven films.
• "Duck Dynasty Season 2: Volume 1": A Bayou family lives the rags-to-riches story.
• "The Bay": Horror story of a sleepy town infected by a deadly menace.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers