2012’s Wreck-It Ralph was a brazen nostalgia play. Granted, it was a cute and clever nostalgia play taking on the mold of Toy Story with characters from an arcade game coming to life once the arcade has closed. Peppered with cameos from classic video game characters while telling the story of a video game villain tired of being the bad guy and searching for friendship, Wreck-It Ralph proved to be a winning formula for Disney Animation Studios. Ralph has returned to the big screen once again in a sequel that expands the universe first brought to the screen six years ago with Ralph Breaks the Internet. Despite some story issues that are fairly predictable, Ralph Breaks the Internet proves to be a superior sequel because of many hilarious gags that will crack up adults and children alike.
Six years after the events of the first film, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is content with his life. He does his work as his game’s villain and settles into a nice routine with his friend Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) when the arcade closes. While Ralph is content, young Vanellope is growing restless at the routine. She’s tired of racing across the same old tracks in her game. She’s tired of the routine. Learning that his friend is tired of her daily routine, Ralph goes into her game and constructs a whole new racing track for her. At first the young racer is thrilled but the changes to the game cause a malfunction which results in the breaking of the game’s steering wheel. With a prohibitive cost to replace it, it looks like Vanellope’s game will be shut down and sold for scrap.
When all seems lost for Ralph and Vanellope a ray of hope of arrives in the arcade as a wireless router has just been installed. In order to secure the steering wheel required to save Vanellope’s game, Ralph and his young friend must travel into the internet and secure the desperately needed part. The duo wins the eBay auction for the part only to discover that they require money to actually acquire it. The search for money in the world of the internet leads the video game duo to the get rick quick schemes of J.P. Spamly (Bill Hader), who sends them into the violent open world racing game Slaughter Race where they’re tasked with acquiring the car of Shank (Gal Gadot), a gang leader and street racer. Though unsuccessful in their task, Vanellope finds herself enchanted with the world of Slaughter Race. Another avenue for potential revenue by making viral videos for the platform BuzzzTube, headed by the lead algorithm Yesss (Taraji P. Henson). Ralph may go viral and build up his chances to save Vanellope’s game but there’s an insecurity within the lovable lughead that could unravel so much more than just the world wide web.
Ralph Breaks the Internet isn’t going to wow anyone with its story. It is, for the most part, a rather rote tale about friends growing apart and accepting these changes while still remaining friends. Where Ralph Breaks the Internet will win people over is with its robust sense of humor. Even as I found myself not completely emotionally invested in where the characters were going, I was still engaged by the film because the jokes were flying fast and a vast majority of them elicit big laughs. It’s a real credit to the work of director Phil Johnston and Rich Moore and the script by Johnston and Pamela Ribbon (with the story credited to Johnston, Moore, Ribbon, Jim Reardon, and Josie Trinidad) that they’ve stuck such a lively, affable tone that some of the more lackluster elements of the story are easy to overlook.
For a movie aimed at children, Ralph Break the Internet does a great job at creating a lived in vision of the internet. It’s a better realized vision of what Steven Spielberg was going for with The Oasis in this year’s Ready Player One. The film makes the mundane corners of the web seem fresh and funny, even the more tedious aspects such as pop- up ads. There’s even a little sequence where Ralph discovers the comments, learning the cardinal rule of the internet – don’t read the comments. Of course, the comments aren’t obscene and the portrayal of Twitter is lacking in Nazis, but for its intended audience Ralph Breaks the Internet does a great job of highlighting the good and bad of the world wide web.
One particular scene has Ralph and Vanellope finding themselves at a Disney fan website, and the results represent the highlight of Ralph Breaks the Internet. The previously teased scene with the other Disney princesses hits every note it’s aiming for. It’s a hilarious deconstruction of so many past Disney characters and is the rare moment where the Mouse House shows it is willing to laugh at itself. Other Disney properties make appearances in there, including some familiar faces from the worlds of Marvel and Star Wars. It’s these moments and the great jokes that emerge that makes Ralph Breaks the Internet a winner.
The ending of the film is very clunky and seems like it came from the need for a big action-packed finale. While it doesn’t hit the emotional beats it strives for the sequence is visually inventive. It’s in this sequence that you can really notice the story issues of the film because you’re not invested in the outcome, all of which you already know how it’s going to end.
Even though Ralph Breaks the Internet suffers from some noticeable story issues, it’s still a charming, hilarious work of animated entertainment. The voice cast delivers stellar work that helps bring the colorful animation to life. It’s the array of gags that the film fires off in rapid succession that makes Ralph Breaks the Internet a superior sequel. This is a sequel that expands the concept from the first film in fun and inventive ways delivering plenty of laughs along the way. Be sure to stay though the credits as Ralph Breaks the Internet saves some magnificent jokes for the end.
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Despite a few lackluster aspects to its story, Ralph Breaks the Internet proves itself to be a superior sequel thanks to its robust sense of humor that keeps the laughs coming early and often.