Disney Marathon: ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’


Ok, this may desynchronise the rankings below but Amelia did not want to watch this as part of the marathon. She’s seen it before, and the giant Ralph made of Ralphs that appears at the end of the movie wigs her out. We weren’t going to force her to revisit that if it scared her, so Josh and I tackled this one alone.

For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 30s blogger), my son Josh (stoic 10 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 7 year old princess wannabe) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise our lists.

Film: Ralph Breaks the Internet

Released: 2018

Director: Rich Moore and Phil Jonston

Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, Bill Hader

Plot: When the ‘Sugar Rush’ gaming cabinet is broken, Ralph and Vanellope must journey into the internet to find a replacement part. Once they breach this new world they discover there’s a greater digital world beyond the arcade that may challenge their friendship.

Review: I have some very positive associations with this movie. That’s mostly because this came out at a point when I was recognised enough to attend movie premieres and they gave us pancakes and strawberry milkshakes during the movie. That kind of thing just makes me happy.

Anyway.

Surprisingly this is the first theatrically released sequel made by Disney animation since The Rescuers Down Under in 1990 – and that was the first one they ever produced. In spite of the plethora of cheap and silly straight-to-video sequels from the Michael Eisner era, Disney Animation has only ever put out three genuine sequels. That’s a fun bit of trivia for you. Wreck-It Ralph is certainly open for a sequel, as the world building was so on point and the digital realm so widespread that there’s dozens of great concepts they could go with.

That being said, this movie takes a long, long time to get to the point. If you want the TL;DR, Vanellope (Silverman) wants more in life and Ralph (O’Reilly) is content with his routine, and this personal conflict threatens their friendship. Now strap in for the long version.

Vanellope and Ralph and enjoying a life of playing games by day and drinking root beer and game hopping at night. After she voices her desire for variety, Ralph takes it upon himself to change-up the ‘Sugar Rush’ racetracks, confusing the human players and leading to broken hardware. When they learn that the only replacement part is on eBay, Ralph and Vanellope take advantage of the arcades new modem to delve into the world wide web. Here they discover a vast new world full of fast-paced confusion, fleeting fame and new opportunities.

After a misunderstanding about how eBay works, our duo are left with a ticking clock to raise a small fortune to obtain the parts they need. Initially they respond to a clickbait ad (personified by a digital denizen waving placards in their faces), and this leads them to farming rare content from online games including the GTA inspired ‘Slaughter Race’. After stealing the main prize, a car belonging to game boss Shank (Gadot), they are advised that a better bet would be viral videos. Ralph’s retro appeal and the embracing of trending memes helps this plan, while Vanellope using clickbait to drive traffic to their cause along with algorithm Yesss (Henson).

Ralph is hurt when he learns that Vanellope wants to stay on the internet and join ‘Slaughter Race’, as it presents her a new challenge. In an effort to bring her back to their arcade Ralph unleashes a virus bought on the Dark Web into ‘Slaughter Race’, but the virus feeds on Ralph’s insecurities and manifests as mindless clones of Ralph himself. The clones multiply rapidly, crashing major websites and servers as it spreads, all seeking to claim Vanellope for themselves. Eventually Ralph is forced to face his insecurities and give Vanellope the chance to pursue her own happiness to defeat the virus.

The story is more of an undercurrent than a driving force, with the world-building of the original film being extended to the internet. Here users are represented as blocky-headed avatars gawking at the sights while programs, algorithms, AIs and game characters appear and digital characters not unlike Ralph and his peers. It’s the most creative and accurate visual depiction of the PG side of the internet we’ve seen in a major release, with a combination of real and fictional sites and platforms giving it a well rounded feel. This is still the best aspect of the film.

Let’s take an aside to quickly discuss the one stand-out excellent self-congratulatory sequence in the movie. It’s easy to write this off as a bit of self-congratulatory wank being indulged by one of the most powerful and evil companies in the world. It’s the scene where Vanellope visits the real website ohmydisney.com and encounters all many of Disney properties. Iron Man, Stormtroopers, Baby Groot, Hei Hei, Grumpy and more are casually hanging around backstage, which is plenty of fun. When the Stormtroopers are chasing Vanellope she ducks into the Princess dressing room.

The scene that follows is a cross-over of major Disney characters of the likes we’ve never seen before, as all the big characters are here and almost all of them voiced by their original actors. That means Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Mandy Moore, Kelly McDonald, Paige O’Hara, Auli’i Cravalho, Jodi Benson, Linda Larkin, Anika Noni Rose, Irene Bedard and Ming-Na Wen all turned out to reprise Anna, Elsa, Rapunzel, Merida, Belle, Moana, Ariel, Jasmine, Tiana, Pocahontas and Mulan respectively, along with Jennifer Hale, Kate Higgins and screenwriter Pamela Ribon providing vocals for Cinderella, Aurora and Snow White.

More than just a gimmick, it’s great fun seeing them poke fun at the tropes associated with their characters, and their reaction to Vanellope’s more casual style. The explanation that they can sing their heart’s song when looking at ‘special water’ is particularly funny. There are other fun cameos, such as Anthony Daniels playing C3-P0, but nothing can compete with the scenes featuring the princesses.

On the other side of the coin, all the new characters and cameos mean that the new characters and some of the existing characters get the short shift. Yesss and Shank don’t have any development beyond their narrative purpose. We loved Felix (McBrayer) and Calhoun (Lynch) in the first film, playing the oddest of couples, but they’re basically absent this time around.

This is a plenty of great individual moments, but the total isn’t as strong as the parts. It’s a fun ride that loses momentum at the end sputters out to a weak finish.

Coolest Easter Egg: You would have to go through the movie frame by frame to find the HUNDREDS of little details in this movie, particularly in the Oh My Disney scenes. If we’re going to single out one, we’re going with Sorcerer Mickey conducting from on top of the Animation Pavilion because he was hand drawn by legendary Disney Renaissance animator Mark Henn.

Here’s another one – the mid-credits bonus scene features a child commenting on movies cutting scenes used in trailers. This scene itself appeared in trailers, but was cut from the main film.

Weirdest Trivia: Bill Hader voices the pop-up salesman in an uncredited role, although he has more lines than most characters.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN

THE RANKING

ME

It lands a bit low on my list because it feels like something I’d rewatch as a novelty rather than a great piece of animated film-making. Although it’s the best representation of the internet we’ve got, it’ll no doubt feel dated before long.

You can click on those titles below if you want to see what we said about those films.

  1. Robin Hood
  2. Aladdin
  3. Wreck-It Ralph
  4. Alice in Wonderland
  5. Beauty and the Beast
  6. Moana
  7. Big Hero 6
  8. Frozen
  9. Tangled
  10. The Sword in the Stone
  11. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  12. Mulan
  13. Emperor’s New Groove
  14. Fantasia
  15. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  16. The Three Caballeros
  17. The Princess and the Frog
  18. Oliver & Company
  19. The Aristocats
  20. A Goofy Movie
  21. Treasure Planet
  22. Chicken Little

AMELIA

As we said in the introduction, Amelia finds the virus-Ralphs pretty unsettling. Although she has been the movie, she skipped it for this series.

  1. Frozen
  2. Emperor’s New Groove
  3. The Three Caballeros
  4. Moana
  5. Mulan
  6. Alice in Wonderland
  7. Wreck-It Ralph
  8. A Goofy Movie
  9. Tangled
  10. The Princess and the Frog
  11. Robin Hood
  12. Beauty and the Beast
  13. Oliver & Company
  14. The Aristocats
  15. The Sword in the Stone
  16. Aladdin
  17. Treasure Planet
  18. Big Hero 6
  19. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  20. Chicken Little
  21. Fantasia

JOSHUA

As Joshua is approaching the pre-teen years he’s been developing a strong interest in gaming and the internet, spending much of his time on Scratch coding his own games. That said, he would like to see more Mario and Luigi next time around.

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Aladdin
  3. Emperor’s New Groove
  4. Treasure Planet
  5. Moana
  6. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  7. The Three Caballeros
  8. Wreck-It Ralph
  9. Frozen
  10. Mulan
  11. The Princess and the Frog
  12. Robin Hood
  13. The Sword in the Stone
  14. Beauty and the Beast
  15. Oliver & Company
  16. Tangled
  17. A Goofy Movie
  18. The Aristocats
  19. Fantasia
  20. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  21. Alice in Wonderland
  22. Chicken Little