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Ralph Breaks the Internet

The original film introduced us to the characters who live inside the video games at an amusement arcade. In part II Princess Vanellope has become bored with her role in her racing game "Sugar Rush", so Ralph attempts to manually create a new racing ...

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It’s been six years since the original WRECK-IT RALPH. We know this because Ralph (John C.Reilly) helpfully reminds Princess Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) that they’ve been friends for six whole years now. If additional clarification was needed, Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) also makes a point of telling Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) how amazing it is that they’ve been married for six years. Perhaps this is a means to suggest to the audience that yes, you have been waiting for a sequel to WRECK-IT RALPH, and you’ve in fact been waiting for six years, and here it is, so be grateful. The success of the original film meant a sequel was more-or-less inevitable. Nobody is likely to be grateful for RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, but it’s welcome enough, in an undemanding kind of way.

For the uninitiated, the original film introduced us to the characters who live inside the video games at an amusement arcade. They spring to life in a cacophony of computer animation when coins are inserted, playing out their roles of hero or villain. Ralph was the villain in the game Fix-It Felix Jr, where he would wreck stuff, before Felix would fix it (managing to keep up?). Ralph was tired of being the villain, and so went on a quest to prove that he wasn’t quite as bad as he was being forced to be, befriending Princess Vanellope (a character in a racing game) along the way. However mild it was, the conflict presented in the first film has long since been resolved by the time RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET gets underway, so there is a sense of waiting for the narrative to kick in. Which it does, although perhaps not quite soon enough.

Princess Vanellope has become bored with the predictability of her role in her racing game Sugar Rush, so Ralph attempts to manually create a new racing track within the confines of her domain, leading to players in the real world trying to control proceedings rather forcefully, snapping the steering wheel control right off the game. Ralph and Vanellope need to venture inside the internet to obtain a new steering wheel from eBay before the rather antiquated Sugar Rush game is sold for parts, rendering Vanellope and her fellow racers homeless. Oh yes, the necessity of eBay is an actual plot point.

The interior of the internet is presented as a garishly technicoloured world, and the fact this is a cartoon means that fantastical depictions of the world wide web won’t quickly become dated, as is often the case with live action films (shout out to Sandra Bullock’s 1995 dial-up speed intrigue, THE NET). Ill-advised references to certain popular memes have already become old though, since Chewbacca Mom has already largely (mercifully) faded from memory.

Parents might raise an eyebrow at the prominence of the online giants in RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET, because not only does eBay plays a role, but Google, Facebook, and YouTube logos loom in the background. Kids are unlikely to notice the attempt to indoctrinate them into the clutches of the cyber entities that will control their online existence for the rest of their lives, and the folks at Disney were presumably able to offset the film’s budget with this blatant product placement. The good-natured and agreeable tone of the proceedings almost manages to offset the cynicism of these moments. Almost.

But Disney is in a ballsy mood. It’s an audacious move to release a movie which features characters needing to visit the studio’s own corporate website, and yet this is where the story takes Vanellope. Practically every character Disney has created or acquired has a cameo, and if RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET had been produced and released after Disney’s takeover of 20th Century Fox, you’d be all but guaranteed to see a Simpson or two strolling across the screen. There is a sense of playfulness to these moments that take place within the Disney website, but you get the impression that just how playful they could be was rigorously controlled by Disney’s marketing and legal team. More successful is Vanellope’s introduction to every animated Disney princess who has ever graced the big screen, with some amusing musings on what it takes to be a princess, along with an easily digestible message of empowerment.

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET lands more jokes than it fumbles (the mid credits scene is rather charming), and anyone who has seen the original will know what to expect. There are a few gently satirical jabs at how we interact with each other in an online context, although watching a computer animated creation attempting to create viral videos for validation is only marginally less tedious than watching actual humans do it. While it’s a children’s movie, the little ones can still pick up on motivation and consequence, so you get the sense that the filmmakers could have trimmed about ten minutes of the protagonists verbalising their thoughts and the lessons they’ve learned. Still, Ralph’s latest adventure is sweet and obliging, although your children might worryingly want to emulate their heroes by going on eBay as soon as they get home from the cinema.

Oliver Johnston

Credits

USA 2018, 113 min
Language: English
Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy
Director: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Author: Pamela Ribon
Distributor: WDS - Walt Disney Studios
FSK: 6
Release: 24.01.2019

Website
Rotten Tomatoes

Screenings

Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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