Wreck-It Ralph currently holds the distinction, at least as far as I’m concerned, as being the best video game movie that we have—even though it’s not based on any one particular video game. It follows an arcade game villain as he decides to no longer be a “bad guy.” It’s funny and creative, and showcases its love for the medium. But an arcade is pretty limited in terms of what you can do, so now for we’re going online. Ralph Breaks the Internet does just that, spending most of its time in cyberspace.
Just like all of you.
Set a full six years after the original, Ralph Breaks the Internet follows Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) as they go online in an attempt to save Vanellope’s game, Sugar Rush. The steering wheel broke, the company that makes the game is no longer around, and the only way to get a new one is to win an auction. Things go a little wrong from there, then go really wrong thanks to Ralph’s insecurities—eventually manifesting itself as a literal virus.
Most of the film is a journey through “online culture” with the plot taking a backstage to memes, viral videos, e-fame, pop-up advertisements, more product placement than maybe any movie ever, and—sorry what were we doing? Oh, right, the steering wheel thing. The movie doesn’t focus on it too heavily and it’s not until pretty close to the end that there’s even anything close to resembling a villain. At least, that’s how it appears on the surface.
Ralph Breaks the Internet slowplays both its ultimate “point” and its potential for emotional impact by dropping hints at where it’s going throughout and letting them build as its characters meander through the world wide web until they finally come to the forefront and hit you hard. It does a great job at building its characters and their relationships—particularly its two protagonists—to the point where you will care what happens to them and where they’re going with their lives. If one scene at the end doesn’t leave you a little teary-eyed, it’d be a surprise.
That’s not to say that Ralph Breaks the Internet is a sad or unenjoyable experience at all. It’s really funny, it has a creative take on the information superhighway, it is always visually engaging, it has a couple of great deconstruction moments—the much-hyped Disney Princess scenes are great, for instance—and the vocal work is outstanding. And, yeah, its potential to generate an emotional response and the strength of its themes push it into a territory of being better than most good animated movies for children. It’s a great watch for anyone.
If Ralph Breaks the Internet immediately feels like it’s an inferior sequel to its predecessor, it’s because of its somewhat meandering story. However, upon closer inspection, this works a slow-build both toward its eventual purpose and with its character development, both of which wind up being poignant points. While it still could have been handled better, it’s an effective enough tool that isn’t significantly detrimental to the final product. It’s a film that is funny, engaging on an emotional, visual, and intellectual level, and really is quite a delight.
Conclusion: Ralph Breaks the Internet is a very worthy sequel to a pretty great original.
Recommendation: If you like the first movie or animated movies in general, Ralph Breaks the Internet is something you should see.