Movie Review: ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet’


 

Plot:  Six years after he saved the game Sugar Rush, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is living a charmed life at Litwak’s Family Fun Center with best friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman).  However, when the steering wheel breaks on Sugar Rush, Vanellope’s game is in danger of getting shut down.  Together the two venture into the unknown territory of the Internet on a quest to save Vanellope’s game.

 

Review:  When Wreck-It Ralph hit theaters six years ago, it became an instant Disney classic.  Aside from being a crowd-pleaser for both kids and adults, it also managed to say something meaningful about identity, purpose, and friendship.  The follow-up not only expands the world created by the House of Mouse, it also improves on the original in satisfying and unexpected ways.  In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Ralph Breaks The Internet is better than the original.

Director Rich Moore returns to helm Ralph’s latest adventure alongside co-director Phil Johnston.  Whereas the original was confined to the arcade games of Litwak’s Family Fun Center, the duo make the smart choice of taking Ralph and Vanellope in the only direction they could go–The Internet.  Moore and Johnston present Vanellope and Ralph as two novices when it comes the tumult of the World Wide Web.  In a culture  where you can’t get away from the Internet, it was refreshing to see Ralph and Vanellope’s journey.  It makes for some hilarious moments such as the pair’s complete misunderstanding of how Ebay works or a running encounter with J.P. Spamley (Bill Hader) a pop-up that helps Ralph and Vanellope along the way.

Silverman and Reilly make for a great tag team.  Their chemistry is just as good if not better this time around.  Reilly proves an adept voice actor, able to express Ralph’s naivete, wonder, and determination with equal prowess.  The same can be said for Silverman, and this is arguably Vanellope’s journey moreso than Ralph’s.  While Ralph is content with his life, Vanellope hopes for something more and is enchanted with the idea of joining Slaughter Race,  an apocalyptic on-line race game headed by spirited woman racer Shank (Gal Gadot).  Gadot is excellent here, and even gets a chance to sing in an inspired Disney-princess-esque musical number led by Vanellope.

What’s fascinating about Ralph Breaks The Internet is how delightfully subversive Johnston and Pamela Ribon’s script is.  Ralph isn’t simply a kid’s story about how friendship can change and evolve.  It’s also a celebration and indictment about the Internet as a whole, something Ready Player One attempted to do with much less success.  We see the highs (Ralph utilizing the Internet to get “hearts” to convert into money to buy the Sugar Rush steering wheel) to the lows (Ralph being exposed to the comments section for the first time).  Ralph contains smart social commentary on how the Internet can be used as a powerful tool for good or how it can exploit your innermost insecurities, the latter being something that quite literally causes Ralph to almost break the Internet.  The scenes with the Disney princesses are just as funny and entertaining as advertised.  They play a key role in the climax of the film in a way that is equal parts ironic, redemptive, and hilarious.

The animation as a whole comes off exquisite with the Internet rendered in a multi-faceted way, whether it’s the bright vibrant colors of BuzzTube and Ebay, the washed out Mad Max style of Slaughter Race, or the dank and foreboding look of the Dark Web.  In an era where Pixar tends to dominate the animation category at the Oscars, I believe that they are in for some stiff competition this year.  As great as The Incredibles 2 was, I’d argue Ralph Breaks The Internet is broader in scope and superior in story.  My only minor quibble is that I wish Fix-It Felix Jr (Jack McBrayer) and Sergeant Tamora Jean Calhoun (Jane Lynch) had been in the movie a bit more.  Although, to be fair what we get from them was great, particularly when they adopt all of Sugar Rush’s wayward children.

Ralph Breaks the Internet proves to be a charming, nuanced, funny, and entertaining film and I can’t wait to see what (hopefully) the next installment has in store.

 

My rating System:

0-1 God Awful Blind Yourself With Acid Bad
2 Straight Garbage
3 Bad
4 Sub Par
5 Average
6 Ok
7 Good
8 Very Good
9 Great
10 A Must See

Ralph Breaks The Internet:  9/10

You can follow me on Twitter at @DarthGandalf1

 

 

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