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Movie Review: ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ and Our Hearts in Disney’s Latest Sequel

BEST FRIENDS – In “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” video game bad guy Ralph and his best buddy Vanellope journey to the internet in search of a replacement part for her game. Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces this new world, while Ralph can’t wait to go home to their comfortable lives. Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, and produced by Clark Spencer, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 21, 2018. ©2018 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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

Directors: Rich Moore and Phil Johnston

Running Time: 114 Minutes

Rating: PG for musical sequences next to important bodies of water

Release Date: November 21, 2018

Using the internet, or technology in general, as a major plot point in a movie or TV series is like playing with fire. Like, for instance, Gossip Girl, a show that premiered about 10 years ago that relied heavily on a gossip website as the main social media platform, is now considered a product of its time. I mean, you can say the same thing about last year’s Emoji Movie, a film that became living proof that trendy things might sell you kitschy pillows but not a 90-minute story.

When I saw the first trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet, I was scared that Disney was going down the same path. While the first Wreck-it Ralph film relied on nostalgia with its arcade game setting, this one’s premise seemed to be based on… the internet (and a lot of Disney properties)? Could Disney really pull it off without becoming dated?

Kind of.

Taking place 6 years after we last saw them, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is loving his daily routine, hanging out with his best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) who is, unfortunately, feeling a bit stuck in a rut. She’s unlocked every secret in her game and wants something new, so when Ralph builds a new track for her, this causes her game’s controller to break and suddenly the two are off to the internet to buy a new controller off eBay so that the other Sugar Rush characters can find a home.

I will have to give it to Disney that their “world” of the internet is really imaginative and captivating, though their references are… not. Sure, their version of a pop-up ad made me chuckle, and they absolutely nailed online video game character animations, but did we really need to reference Chewbacca Mom in 2018?

In order to actually pay for the Sugar Rush controller, Ralph and Vanellope need to start making some cash, fast. This leads them to BuzzTube, an in-move combination of Buzzfeed and YouTube (which was really odd since YouTube is also referenced directly) run by an algorithm named Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) that rewards money to people who make viral videos, and boy does Ralph make them. Expect screaming goat Ralph, hot pepper eating Ralph, unboxing Ralph and other trendy videos to a video site near you!

But, where the film really succeeds is in its core story. Like the first film, Ralph Breaks the Internet is all about finding your true self, but this time around its Vanellope who’s feeling lost. She finds a new hero in Shank (Gal Gadot), a character in Slaughter Race, an online racing game that’s part Grand Theft Auto and part Fortnite, which causes Ralph to become jealous and eventually break the internet with an “insecurity virus.” Friends drifting apart to do what’s best for them is a common issue amongst people of all ages, which gives this storyline the potential to really hit home for most audiences. Just like the internet, people are constantly changing, and we have to learn and grow from that.

Plus, there’s no twist villain this time. Maybe Disney is finally giving up on the trope…

And speaking of Disney, let’s address the elephant in the room: the heavily featured in the trailers Oh My Disney sequence. Does it live up to the hype?

SELFIE! – In “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Vanellope von Schweetz hits the internet where she encounters and then befriends the Disney princesses. Filmmakers invited the original voice talent to return to the studio to help bring their characters to life, including Sarah Silverman (Vanellope in “Ralph Breaks the Internet”), Auli‘i Cravalho (“Moana”), Kristen Bell (Anna in “Frozen”), Idina Menzel (Elsa in “Frozen”), Kelly MacDonald (Merida in “Brave”), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in “Tangled”), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog”), Ming-Na Wen (“Mulan”), Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in “Aladdin”), Paige O’Hara (Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”), and Jodi Benson (Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”). ©2018 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Yeah, it does. And then some.

I don’t want to ruin anything big, but the cameos are extremely delightful, with some I wasn’t expecting, like, for instance, Jason Mantzoukas asking Baby Groot ridiculous questions and C-3PO acting as a stage manager to the Princesses, who teach Vanellope a thing or two about musical numbers while she teaches them about the world of comfortable clothing. It’s the crossover we all deserve.

The only other glaring issue I had with this film was its continuity with the first. Ralph leaves his game to go to the internet for at least 12 hours, and the first film makes a huge deal about characters leaving their game, so was a scene cut along the way? And not to spoil the ending, but Vanellope finds herself someplace other than Sugar Rush at the film’s conclusion and it’s explained away by a throwaway line? It was very confusing.

While the world itself is extremely captivating and the bond of friendship between Vanellope and Ralph is stronger than ever, the (un)timely reference or two have the potential to turn you off. Overall, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a gorgeously animated good time that will definitely delight anyone in your family under the age of 12.

Also, make sure you stick it out through the entirety of the end credits.

It’s worth it.

Trust me.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is Recommended If You Like: Anything Disney, video games, using the internet to distract yourself at a dead end job, trendy videos you’ll eventually forget about a week later.

Grade: 3 out of 5 Bee Puns

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