Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on The New Portable.
When Wreck-It Ralph came out, I was incredibly excited for it. It was very much one of those films that felt like it was made for me. It was a huge chunk of nostalgia for me, something that felt like a chunk of my past put on a movie screen. It was a big enough hit that a sequel was almost guaranteed to happen. And the closer that the reality came to fruition, the less I was excited about it. So, while I knew I was going to have to watch Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Anyway, we’re going to be dealing with the same set of characters here, at least in part. Ralph (John C. Reilly) spends his day in his video game and, when the arcade is closed, hangs out with his friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) in the other video games (particularly Tapper). For Ralph, this is the perfect life and he has everything he needs. Vanellope, though, is starting to get bored of her game. Wanting to help, Ralph enters her game and tries to build her a new track. Vanellope is excited by the track, but while she tries to drive it, the player resists and ends up breaking the steering wheel. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the company that made her game has gone out of business, and the steering wheel can only be found on eBay. However, the owner of the arcade doesn’t want to spend the money.
The solution? Ralph and Vanellope enter the internet via the new wifi router and head to eBay to bid on the steering wheel. They’re unclear on the concept, though, and end up bidding against each other and run the price up to a ridiculous amount. Now they have a limited amount of time to get the money to buy the part or Vanellope will lose her game and become homeless.
Essentially, this is all a chance to get Ralph and Vanellope to explore the internet and to make a series of internet-based jokes. We’re going to get pop-up ads, internet personality quizzes, search engines, and quite a bit more. There’s also some really well thought out action with the Disney princesses, since Vanellope is essentially a Disney princess.
The real point of Ralph Breaks the Internet is to explore the friendship of the two main characters. Vanellope has grown past the bounds of her game, having only three tracks to race on and wants more than the life she has with Ralph. Ralph, thinking that her wanting more means she doesn’t want to be his friend becomes clingy and possessive. It’s an interesting lesson for kids, I think, and one that a lot of adults could stand to learn as well. Because this is the story, there’s a lot less of the side characters from the first film. Fix-it Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch) are here, but only show up a couple of times.
It’s cute. There’s a nice new cast of characters. A Google-style search engine (Alan Tudyk) has a couple of scenes, and Vanellope eventually finds an online racing game populated by a bad-ass racer named Shank (Gal Gadot). The pair are also aided by a spambot (Bill Hader) and a YouTube-style algorithm named Yesss (Taraji P. Henson).
So why am I a little disappointed? I’m not sure, but it feels like in trying to do something more than the first movie, it’s moved too far beyond the mythology created in the first film. I understand that it had to do that. There wasn’t really another story that could be told in the world of the first movie, but this one seems a little diminished despite opening up into a more expansive world.
Ultimately, I like the idea of this and the attempt at continuing the characters, but it feels like an overreach. I want to like it a little more than I do, but I guess I like it well enough.
Why to watch Ralph Breaks the Internet: It really, really wants to be as good as the first one and almost is.
Why not to watch: It can’t quite capture the unbridled magic of Wreck-It Ralph.