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Ralph Breaks the Internet

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: Nov. 21, 2018


Movie Review - 'Ralph Breaks the Internet'

by Adam Pavlacka on Nov. 22, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Six years after the events of "Wreck-It Ralph", Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.

It's been six years since the events of "Wreck-It Ralph," and in that time, things have pretty much stayed the same. Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are the best of friends, Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch) are happily married, and the denizens of the arcade entertain kids of all ages. Unfortunately, stagnation leads to boredom, and as the sequel opens, we find Vanellope wondering if there is something more to life.

Ralph doesn't understand what's missing, as he's perfectly content, but in an attempt to help his friend, things go awry, and the Sugar Rush machine is broken. All the characters manage to evacuate before Mr. Litwak (Ed O'Neill) pulls the plug, but that's only a short-term solution. If Sugar Rush doesn't get fixed by the end of the week, it's off to the scrap heap for good. Ralph and Vanellope head off to the Internet in a quest to find a replacement part on eBay, so Sugar Rush can be saved.

The setup sounds more convoluted than it is, as things play out nicely (and rather quickly) on-screen. The goal is to get to the Internet as quickly as possible because that's when the story really takes off.

"Ralph Breaks the Internet" is as much a story about growing up as it is a riff on all the fads, memes, websites (including failed ones), and stereotypes of the Internet. If "Wreck-It Ralph" was a love letter to video games, "Ralph Breaks the Internet" is aiming squarely for the Internet generation with its nostalgia. If you grew up in the late '90s or early '00s, this one's for you.

While the overall story focuses on Ralph and Vanellope's friendship, the specifics bounce from situation to situation like a pinball bouncing across a playfield. The story threads come fast and furious, but they never feel disjointed. The electronic world of the Internet is a virtual playground that allowed the screenwriters quite a bit of freedom.

One of those bits is the subplot featuring the Disney Princesses, who absolutely steal the show. They have limited screen time but make amazing use of what they do have. Every moment these women are on-screen, they are on point. The banter, the costumes, how they fit into the plot — it all works. I enjoyed watching "Ralph Breaks the Internet," but as I walked out of the film, I was thinking about how much I wanted to see a full-length feature starring the Disney Princesses as they're depicted here. Make it happen, Disney.

The princesses aren't the only cameos here, with dozens of characters all showing up. Marvel, Sonic the Hedgehog, Star Wars, Street Fighter and Winnie-the-Pooh and are just some of the franchises represented. The late, great Stan Lee even has a cameo appearance as a virtual 'netizen. In addition to characters, all of the major (and some not-so-major) Internet brands are also here. Amazon, eBay, Google, Pinterest, Twitter and Wikipedia are the majors, but even Geocities gets a callout. Having all of these real-world brands is a nice touch, but it does make the fictitious BuzzTube seem out of place, given that it's obviously a stand-in for YouTube.

Another element that makes "Ralph Breaks the Internet" work is the film's ability to poke fun at itself and popular film tropes. There is even a full-on musical number in the middle of the show. Thankfully, it's not quite as catchy as "Let It Go." The fourth-wall-breaking self-criticism manifests in two smartly edited after-credits sequences, though if you want to be surprised, rework an old piece of Internet advice. In this case, don't read the credits the first time you watch the film, lest you spoil the final stinger.

When all is said and done, "Ralph Breaks the Internet" is a sequel that approaches the original in quality. There are a handful of moments where the new film eclipses the first, but it can't maintain that level of quality throughout. The lows aren't bad, but the sometimes-frenetic pace seems to overlook character development in favor of getting in one more slick reference. The soundtrack for "Ralph Breaks the Internet" is also a step down from the first movie, with the music being serviceable, but not too much more.

"Ralph Breaks the Internet" is a solid family film and a safe bet for an outing over the extended Thanksgiving weekend. The story works, even if you haven't seen the first, but Baby Boomers should be forewarned. You're probably used to jokes in Disney films that your kids don't get. This is likely the first Disney movie with jokes that your kids are going to get while they fly right over your head.

Score: 8.5/10

"Ralph Breaks the Internet" is rated PG and has a running time of 1 hour and 52 minutes. It will be showing in 2-D and 3-D.

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