Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson
Directors: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: In “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” video-game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) leave the comforts of Litwak’s arcade in an attempt to save her game, Sugar Rush. Their quest takes them to the vast, uncharted world of the internet where they rely on the citizens of the internet–the Netizens–to help navigate their way. Lending a virtual hand are Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces–so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he’s ever had.
After the resounding success of 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, it was only a matter of time before Disney tried to follow-up with another installment in this delightful series. Picking up almost exactly where we left off last time, Ralph (Reilly) and Vanellope (Silverman) take their adventures outside of the arcade as they explore what the internet has to offer for them. The thing that Disney does very well with their animated movies is they can very easily make stories that can span over multiple movies that everyone in the family can happily tune into. Luckily, we have another version of that formula on display with Ralph Breaks the Internet. While not quite as polished as the first movie, the animation, voice acting, and humor all provide enough joy for everyone from the casual moviegoer to the Disney superfan.
The first thing that will obviously stand out about a Disney animated film is the way it looks. The smoothness and scale at which this film was presented on is truly one of the most impressive in recent Disney history. Specifically when Ralph and Vanellope first enter the Internet and see the scope of everything for the first time is when we see the power of Disney animation on full display. Colors pop from every part of the screen, whether it is the bright blues of Twitter and greens of Google all the way down to the grays and browns of the Dark Web, everything we see is just bursting with energy and is something we look forward to seeing. The animation really shines when the characters are moving, like how an older character like Ralph walks slower and clunkier than his more modern counterparts. This is a small detail, but these are the types of details that have made Disney so successful for so long. Outside of the animation, Reilly and Silverman both show us why this movie got a sequel. The two seem to having a blast with their roles as each of them perfectly capture the scene they are in with their voice work. Reilly reprises his dopey, slack-jawed demeanor from the previous installment while Silverman hits the voice of a small animated girl flawlessly. Finally, this is definitely one of the funnier Disney movies to be released in recent years. This may be due to Reilly and Silverman’s careers outside of these roles, but they do a great job of toning down their usual styles for a movie aimed at younger audiences. This movie is full of light-hearted moments for the kids, but also has some great moments of sarcasm and situational humor for those who get dragged to the theater with their family.
While Ralph Breaks the Internet does many things right, there were still a few things that could have been improved. One of these things is that the film relies almost exclusively on the state of the Internet now and very little about what it was or what it will be. Imagine watching this movie in 20 years and seeing a reference to Ebay. Assuming the website is defunct by then, you would probably think the movie is a relic that belongs in the past. This is merely a snippet of what this film relies on, as many current trending Internet memes and jokes carry this movie for multiple scenes, and I think everyone can predict that this film will not hold up as a result. A truly great movie will be able to prove its point but also hold up so that people from future generations can be just as immersed as people watching today. Outside of the reliance on modern Internet phases, I did not quite understand the framing for the film’s moral message. I guess the moral of the story is you need to be a supportive friend instead of an overbearing one, but the way that this message is delivered is confusing. I have a hard time seeing small children understanding the consequences surrounding these decisions because traditionally they have never experienced something like that. While I commend Disney for going this avenue and I believe it will pay off for older viewers, I feel as though there was a better way to connect it the younger demographic that Disney targets.
Overall, Ralph Breaks the Internet is another fun option for the entire family during the holiday season. Disney rarely misses, so it is no surprise that they have another hit on their hands here. The sequel is hardly ever as good as the original, but with the level of talent involved in this film, it certainly comes close to matching it.
Overall Score: 8/10