Ralph Breaks the Internet

In Wreck-It Ralph, the self-aware Ralph (John C. Reilly) decides he no longer wants to be a bad guy, while new friend Vanelope (Sarah Silverman) embraces who she is—glitches and all. In its sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Ralph and Vanellope move to the next level, exploring the idea of following one’s passions and accepting one’s destiny.

While the first film, took place primarily in the Fix-It Felix and Candy Rush games, all that is cast aside and the film’s action takes place in the power strip connecting the video games at the arcade. As established in the first film, the power strip is the “transit station” from game to game. For six years, Ralph and Vanellope have had a good run. Every day, they work in their respective games, and at night they hang out as friends—over and over, Ralph is extremely content with this monotonous cycle.

A little anxious, Vanellope has grown tired of playing her games only three race tracks. So, always the hero, Ralph comes to the rescue and digs Vanellope a new track. While in arcade mode, Vanellope tries out the new track against the wishes of the human girl playing the game. A fight for the game’s control between Vanellope and the girl results in breaking the physical steering wheel. Out of production, the only replacement wheel is available on eBay for $200. Not worth the price to fix, arcade owner Mr. Litwak (Ed O’Neill) unplugs the machine and prepares it to be scrapped for parts in a week.

“Unclear on the rules of eBay, Ralph and Vanellope excitedly bid against each other, and the part sells for $27,001…”

Meanwhile, a new game is installed. Well, not actually a game, but a wireless Wi-Fi router is ready to go online. This Wi-Fi router becomes a portal to the internet, allowing Ralph and Vanellope to buy the needed part off eBay. Unclear on the rules of eBay, Ralph and Vanellope excitedly bid against each other, and the part sells for $27,001. Now they have to find the money to pay for it.

Like Pixar’s Inside Out, much of Ralph Breaks the Internet is all about world building. The world of the internet is like a city of buildings, where each building represents a website. In the first film, audiences were treated to a plethora of our favorite video game characters of old, in this one, we’re treated to a plethora of popular websites, like Google, Amazon, and Oh My Disney. Sounds fun, right? This world is populated by characters related to the various sites visted as well as avatars representing the real-world users surfing the internet.

Three important new characters are introduced. First, JP Spamley (Bill Hader, uncredited) who is the seedy front man for the various get-rich-quick scams, in this case, earn money playing video games. Here JP leads the two to the open-world game of Slaughter Race—think of a street-racing version of Grand Theft Auto. The big boss is Shank (Gal Gadot), who happens to be a better racer than Vanellope and who, out of respect, asks Vanellope to join her crew. The third is Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), a viral analytics algorithm assigned to help Ralph earn enough money as he produces several unboxing, self-harm, and cooking-type videos.

“The storyline and character development are mixed in with a series of internet gags…”

I have mixed feelings for Ralph Breaks the Internet. I really wanted it to be as good as the first. Sadly, it’s not, but it’s still a good film. The best scene is clearly Vanellope hanging out with the Disney Princesses. But from the start, there’s just that feeling this is not as good. Here’s the big difference between the two films. Wreck-It Ralph took place in the limited world of the arcade, an almost controlled environment. Ralph was hated by his fellow video game characters, and Vanellope was bullied and dismissed in her world by the evil King Candy. They actively worked together to overcome their obstacles.

In Ralph Breaks the Internet, the world is open to the unlimited internet and the passively solved their personal problems. The storyline and character development are mixed in with a series of what-if-the-internet-was-a-real-world gags. Gags like spam ad signs enticing visitors to visit get-rich-quick scams or tame adult meetup ads (yes, that’s in there) or who’s your BFF princess psychology test. Might as well also include in this list the new trend in Disney films of late…no villains. The ending, featuring a virus attack also falls flat, partially because it doesn’t adequately make the link between the ending event and how viruses actually work. It’s not that they technically got it wrong, but the explanation about it is weak and unsatisfying.

But as Disney film goes, there is a sweet message about friendship and moving on. Happily, Ralph and Vanellope are back in the same adorable shape we left them in the first film. Sarah Silverman conveys a lot of cuteness to Vanellope. You can’t help but love her. John C. Reilly against brings a huge heart to a huge character. You can’t help but love him. In the final analysis, it was great to welcome the return of Ralph and Vanellope. It’s their story that let them down.

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Directed by Phil Johnston, Rich Moore. Written by Phil Johnston, Pamela Ribon. Starring John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill.

7 out of 10 stars

 

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