Ralph Breaks the Internet is the most mainstream Disney animated movie ever made. As well as their biggest vanity project by far. When it comes to sequels, Walt Disney animation almost never goes for a theatrical release. With the exception of The Rescuers Down Under, Fantasia 2000, and Winnie the Pooh. Everything else was relegated to direct-to-video sequels of varying quality. Since the Disney Revival era was such a big success, Disney broke their unofficial rule not to release sequels in theaters. Making Ralph Breaks the Internet the fifty-seventh film from the studio and the first sequel made with the original crew (except John Lasseter). Although some might consider it to be part of the Revival era, Moana should be considered the end since it was original.
Ralph Breaks the Internet uses the basic setup from Wreck-It-Ralph, only it moves things to the ever changing giant known as the internet. Director Rich Moore originally wanted to explore more video games with online and console gaming. When the internet became the primary setting, the story went through many changes. Along with deciding on all the memes and websites they could cram in. Eventually Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It-Ralph 2 became the title (before the subtitle was dropped). Despite “Wreck” making more sense than “Break.” Not to mention the fact that Googling “Break the Internet” will take you to Kim Kardashian’s naked butt. Well Ralph Breaks the Internet was another success for Disney, but it’s probably best that an internet based movie didn’t win Best Animated Feature…
Ralph Breaks the Internet offered a lot to Disney fans like my brother and I. More than just a Wreck-It-Ralph sequel, Disney leaned way more into the possibilities the internet presented. Absolutely everyone uses the internet. Including myself at this very moment and whoever ends up reading this review. Video games were one thing, but I honestly didn’t know how to feel about both a Disney sequel and one that seemed way too modern for the old fashioned studio. Well Ralph Breaks the Internet ended up being a more competently made version of The Emoji Movie. Both feature worlds based on devices we use, but the difference is heart. Although I thought Ralph Breaks the Internet would just be Ralph & Vanellope wandering around the internet for 2 hours, the sequel is actually about their friendship.
6 years after Ralph helped save Vanellope in Sugar Rush, the two have been best friends ever since. Hanging around the arcade, making immature jokes, and getting stuck in Tron. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman return with hardly any difference. Since video game characters don’t age. As if the trailers weren’t telling enough, very little takes place in Litwak’s Arcade. Thus Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch have hardly any screen time as Felix & Calhoun. Sonic has slightly more to do, but it’s about as much as any of the other video game characters. They don’t even use Mario like they promised. Ed O’Neill has a slightly bigger role as Mr. Litwak. Since he plugs a WI-FI router into the power strip. I might as well say now that Ralph Breaks the Internet doesn’t have a specific villain. So it’s yet another Disney movie that makes its heroes look bad because of it.
When Vanellope wishes for something new and exciting, Ralph builds an unauthorized race track for her. Causing the steering wheel to break in the real world. Some kids immediately find it on eBay, but it’s too much and Litwak decides to unplug the game instead. Leaving all of Sugar Rush homeless. All Felix & Calhoun have to do is adopt the racers and raise them perfectly off screen. Meanwhile, Ralph gets the idea to physically go to the internet and find Vanellope’s steering wheel on eBay. The router blasts Ralph & Vanellope’s code out of Litwak’s, through the power lines, and straight to the internet. The idea of a physical internet world isn’t a new one. Ralph Breaks the Internet only benefits from a creative take on the idea. Websites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, IMDb, Pinterest, Fandango, and Snapchat are buildings in a neverending metropolis with Google at the center.
It seems like blatant product placement, but original websites are really the main locations. Except for eBay, which is of course like an auction. Internet users are represented by blocky avatars that only interact with the websites they click onto. Spam is represented by pop up salesmen with all that bogus clickbait you see on various websites. A search bar is represented by KnowsMore, an academic voiced by Alan Tudyk. He takes Ralph & Vanellope to eBay where they frustratingly overbid on the steering wheel. Now the conflict is the two of them trying to raise $27,001 any way they can. So they go to J.P. Spamley, who mentioned getting rich playing video games. Spamley takes them to the dilapidated deep web where his weird assistant Gord hands them loot to find in various online games. New characters like these can be funny, but it’s a little too random.
We then go to another new location in Slaughter Race. An MMORPG racing game set in a violent city likely modeled after Grand Theft Auto. With a little Fast & Furious thrown in since Gal Gadot voices Shank. A badass streetracer with a crew of philosophical misfits. Although internet gags are the best source of humor in the movie, I really wish Disney would stop relying on modern humor like this. An emotional core is fine, but everyone’s a little too touchy feely here. Vanellope falls in love with the chaos of Slaughter Race and Ralph starts to feel insecure about it. Especially after Shank and her crew give them the perfect way to make money on the internet. By shooting a dumb video with Ralph on BuzzzTube. YouTube is shown, but setting another major location there would be pushing it. It’s on BuzzzTube that Ralph & Vanellope meet the websites fashionable algorithm Yesss voiced by Taraji P. Henson.
Yesss and her assistant Maybe point out the most popular trending videos online and Ralph decides to do everything in order to make money. Since an 80’s arcade villain becoming internet famous is just the kind of random thing you’d expect to see become a meme. Between cameos from Miranda Sings and the floss dance, there’s no way the movie won’t become dated in the future. Then it becomes more blatant when Ralph sends Vanellope to ohmy.disney.com. An excuse for Disney to show off their corporate hold on all of pop culture. With Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and the Muppets on full display. I know Disney are a bunch of greedy corporate overlords, but I still eat this stuff up. That’s why I have the biggest love-hate relationship with Disney. Characters like Eeyore, Iron Man, Buzz Lightyear, Baymax, Groot, Grumpy, Stormtroopers, Nick Wilde, C-3PO, and even Stan Lee make cameos. But it was the inclusion of every Disney Princess that was promoted the heaviest and the biggest reason I wanted to see the movie.
Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Anna, Elsa, and Moana all appearing together is a major achievement. I just wish it wasn’t in a Wreck-It-Ralph sequel. Disney managed to bring back Jodi Benson, Paige O’Hara, Linda Larkin, Irene Bedard, Ming-Na Wen, Anika Noni Rose, Mandy Moore, Kelly MacDonald, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Auli’i Cravalho. The three classic Princesses had to be replaced for obvious reasons. Although the modern Princesses sound the same, the older ones have understandably aged. Except for Jodi Benson who always sounds like Ariel. Since Vanellope is technically a Princess, she’s the one who meets them. I have very mixed feelings about the whole sequence. While it is hilarious to see the Disney Princesses compare their many similarities, dressing in comfy clothes, and showing off their signature traits, the cynical PC undertones just doesn’t feel right. Almost like Disney is trying to insult their own characters at times.
It doesn’t help that Vanellope is so anti-princess. She can’t sing, but that doesn’t stop her from singing about her dream of joining Slaughter Race. “A Place Called Slaughter Race” is a babbling parody of Princess songs that benefits from Gal Gadot’s beautiful voice, but suffers from Sarah Silverman’s obnoxious voice. Ralph finishes getting the money on BuzzzTube early on, but makes the mistake of reading kid friendly mean comments. Only feeling worse when he overhears Vanellope wanting to stay in Slaughter Race with Shank. So Ralph makes another terrible decision to get a virus from the deep web. Alfred Molina voices Double Dan, a slug with a face boil who creates viruses. Yet another random for the sake of random character. He gives Ralph an insecurity virus that copies Vanellope’s glitch and spreads it across Slaughter Race. As the game reboots, Vanellope discovers the awful truth.
SPOILER ALERT! Then the virus enters the internet and actually spreads Ralph’s insecurity across the web. As represented by zombie Ralph’s who literally break the internet to be with Vanellope. Then they form a giant Ralph of insecurity that’s only defeated when Ralph agrees to let Vanellope go. I wish I was making this up, but they really do try that hard to say something with an internet movie. Ralph & Vanellope tearfully say goodbye as they part ways as best friends with different dreams. Then a mid-credit scene gets meta by featuring the bunny & kitty feeding game played by baby Moana. Then an after-credits scene trolls the audience with a sneak peak of Frozen II that’s actually a Ralph Rickroll. Ralph Breaks the Internet is loaded with internet jokes and trendy pop culture references. It’s really a miracle that the movie wasn’t torn apart by critics. Well high caliber Disney computer animation, storytelling, and voice acting are to thank for its success.
They build on what was already present in Wreck-It-Ralph with more characters and locations than any other Disney animated film. A grand total of 434 characters can be seen in the movie. Like the internet, it does feel neverending at times. You have video game characters in the arcade, internet users, internet workers, a lot more humans than we saw before, Slaughter Race NPC’s, and a bunch of Disney owned characters that all needed to be computer animated in the same style. The internet is an impressive construct and they’re just showing off with the giant Ralph made up of a billion Ralph’s. Apart from Vanellope’s song, the catchy “Zero” by Imagine Dragons is the only other original song. Although Ralph Breaks the Internet is one of the better representations of the internet, a kids movie could never do it justice. The internet is a very R rated place full of cruelty and debauchery. Sure there are some risque jokes, but it’s mostly just Ralph & Vanellope’s juvenile humor. That being said, Ralph Breaks the Internet is still worth logging onto if you’re looking to kill time on the internet.
Preceded by: Wreck-It Ralph