Wednesday, November 14th, 2018 at 12:00 pm
Ralph Breaks The Internet Directors: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston Writers: Phil Johnston, Pamela Ribon Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson, Gal Gadot, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Ed O’Neill, Alfred Molina, Alan Tudyk Studio: Walt Disney Studios Rated PG | 112 Minutes Release Date: November 21, 2018
Wreck-It Ralph saw Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) as a pair of lovable arcade sprite misfits in an animated film about acceptance, identity, and self-worth. The film is that perfect blend of humor and heart supported by terrific animation and video game nostalgia. It’s been six years since we last saw the two in a film whose ending seemed perfect. Now we are getting a sequel. Don’t worry, it’s not about Ralph and Vanellope causing trouble in the arcade. No, this time the two go to the Internet in Ralph Breaks the Internet, a play on the very popular phrase when something goes viral. While not as strong as the first, the film goes far beyond humoring with all too easy Internet tropes and gags.
There’s plenty of emotional depth and some surprises that will have you wanting more. However, the pacing and editing are just some of the issues that slow things down. But it’s not enough to ruin what is a fun sequel. Check out my full review below.
Ralph Breaks the Internet takes place six years after Wreck-It Ralph, with the arcade sprites of Mr. Litwak’s Arcade going about their daily lives entertaining players during the day and enjoying the time off to themselves at night. However, Vanellope isn’t happy with the daily routine and wants something more out of life than just racing the same old boring track. Though, Ralph tries to tell her that the monotony is alright because it’s safe, Vanellope isn’t convinced. So he tries to change things up by adding his own personal race track to Vanellope’s Sugar Rush game. Although it does add some variety to her life, it does have an effect on the players playing the game, and as a result, one player breaks the controls.
In an effort to save the game, players immediately use their phones to look for a replacement part on the eBay. However, when Mr. Litwak discovers that the replacement part is out of his price range and the gaming company that makes Sugar Rush has gone out of business, he believes it may be time to take it out of service. So Ralph and Vanellope embark on their biggest adventure yet. A journey to the Internet to find eBay. When they do, they don’t understand how it works and believe that it is all just a game where the winner is the person who shouts the highest number. Unfortunately, they come up with $27,001.
With no money to pay for it, the two try their hand at get rich quick pop up schemes like stealing cars for other players in a game called Slaughter Race. That game can best be described as an online GTA where the goal is to steal Shank’s (Gal Gadot) car. Shank, who looks like a CG version of Gisele from the Fast and Furious movies, is the best racer in the game and no one has ever come close to stealing her car. In fact, Vanellope finds a kindred spirit with Shank and almost sees her as a sister. While their attempt to steal the car fails, Shanks suggests that they try their hand at making viral videos for the hip and trend-making algorithm Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) and her site BuzzzTube. And it works. But soon, Ralph realizes that going to the Internet may have been a bad idea.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is one of the rare Disney animated sequels to hit theaters. Unfortunately, it isn’t nearly as strong as the first. Though the message is in the right place, the uneven pacing is hard to sit through. It takes far too long to get from point A to point B. A lot of time is spent on building exposition. We get to see Sonic explain what WiFi is, and though it does give Ralph the hilarious opportunity to mispronounce it is Wiffy or Wifey, the whole set up feels unnecessarily elaborate. We watch Mr. Litwak plug WiFi in, it lights up, etc.
And a lot of the transitions feel forced and inorganic. Though Ralph and Vanellope continue their adventure throughout the Internet with coincidental events, it doesn’t quite work in the sequel. Some of it isn’t cohesive. Things just happen for the sake of moving on to the next scene.
That being said, the subtext works. Some of the deeper more timely messages like Internet bullying and other toxic online behavior seems to be glossed over. However, it would be completely disingenuous to solve that problem in one film. So the film makes earnest attempt to address it head-on by assuring audiences who may have been affected that not all people are like that, and when used for the right reasons, the Internet can be a good place. Add some humor to the mix and it makes it a worthwhile watch.
Given that this is a sequel, we get to spend a lot more time with Ralph and Vanellope. The character-based emotion allows for greater development. We get to see what drives these two after six years. Vanellope wants more out of life than just racing the same old track over and over again. Then there is Ralph, who firmly believes he cannot be that person who Vanellope sees in him without Vanellope being around. So despite his muscular figure, the big softy has some insecurities that he has to overcome.
And then there is the humor, which in some cases can go far beyond the generic Internet tropes and gags. So with a place like the Internet, there are plenty of jokes to make us laugh. But sometimes those gags can fall flat because they are too easy. It’s not a case of lazy writing, but simply, the obvious jokes are the ones that get made. Still, if it makes you laugh, it’s a joke that works.
But the one bit that works is the princess scene that sees Vanellope finally be inducted into the pantheon of iconic Disney Princesses. We won’t get too in depth into this since we already have covered it, but it is a scene that still made me laugh from start to finish. The self-deprecating humor shows that directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston were willing to poke fun at Disney while also still being respectful by subverting the idea of what a Disney princess is. And they get to do so much more.
Though there are some flaws, the one thing that the film doesn’t lack is high-quality animation. Just like many of the films that came before, Ralph Breaks the Internet exemplifies why Walt Disney Animation Studios is the best animation studio. The sequel takes a sidestep from the sweet and bright bubblegum pop world of Sugar Rush and takes us into a highly detailed metropolis that is the Internet. Envisioned as a city, the Internet is bustling with Netizens (programs and algorithms) assisting Net Users (humans using the Internet). The film even goes as far as showing the struggles of coping with online play.
Ralph Breaks the Internet gives fans another reason to revisit this fantastic world and deliver a very timely message. Though some of the pacing and execution are a bit off, the sequel manages to find its footing with heart and humor. And be sure to stick through the entire credits.