A lot of people probably heard that a second Wreck It Ralph movie was coming out and bemoaned the releasing of all these new Disney sequels and Disney remakes. I’m not going to go into the politics of that here, and just treat Ralph Breaks the Internet (aka Wreck It Ralph 2) as if it were the only sequel Disney has ever made. Was it a good movie?
Yes, yes it was.
Entertainment: 5/5 Intellect: 4/5 Overall: 9/10
It’s difficult to talk about the plot of Ralph Breaks the Internet without some major spoilers, so I’ll just start off by saying that the plot revolves around Ralph and Venellope — who are now best friends who hang out all the time — trying their best to raise money on the Internet. Their mains strategy is to try to become “BuzzTube” Famous, but they have to raise a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time. Of course, the hearts they earn online aren’t the emotional hearts of the story, so to speak.
One thing I noticed about this film is that at any given time I had no idea what was going to happen next. I had some theories, but often none of them turned out to be correct. Within the first few minutes of the film, I was completely astonished by the magnitude of the main conflict. They did what?
And then, when the characters set out to solve this earth-shattering problem, I have no idea which solution is going to work. The first method of money-making that the characters try didn’t work, and from then on I wasn’t sure which ones will.
So the plot is great. What about the characters? They didn’t give a lot of screen-time to my favorite two characters from the last film, but the screen-time that they did get was golden. Most of the new characters are ok, but I really loved Shank. Maybe it’s because she’s voiced by Gal Gadot (aka Wonder Woman), maybe it’s because she’s a baddass, or maybe it’s because she’s the only fully mature adult in the film. But no matter what the reason, I loved her.
The princesses also didn’t get a lot of screen-time, but they were absolutely hilarious. Even though they were in all the trailers, there were still plenty of scenes with them that surprised me. And, fun fact, all but Snow White, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and Cinderella were played by their original Disney voice actresses! Yep, even Ariel and Belle. It was also quite interesting to see how the Disney princess design had evolved over the years. I watched an interesting video on the “domestication” of the Disney princess, and it really shows in the movie: newer princesses like Moana and Ana didn’t change in design at all, whereas Cinderella and Pocahontas look drastically different. Even Elsa, Rapunzel, and Merida, who were originally 3D animated, look much younger, cuter, and more cartoonish.
But the best parts of the movie were the humor and the little worldly quirks. I loved seeing their interpretation of what the Internet looks like “on the inside.” Adapting modern/abstract concepts into artistic worlds (ex. Inside Out) is something that I never appreciated as a kid — it feels like I’ve unlocked a new level of story appreciation. My favorite aspect of that had to be their interpretation of “insecurities” in a game’s code. I want to buy the movie on DVD just to catch all the little Easter Eggs and references they packed into the movie. No amount of Youtube “99 Things you Missed in…” videos can possibly encompass all the references in that movie.
I don’t normally put a lot of stake in a story’s humor, because a joke is rarely funny the second time around. But there are some jokes from that movie I’m still laughing at…and some that keep getting funnier and cleverer the more I think about them.
But the real gold in this movie comes from some of the things that are major spoilers. The first one that comes to mind is Vanellope’s song. They kept hinting at how Disney princesses need to sing when near “an important body of water” (a spilled drink apparently counts). I kept thinking to myself, “They’re not really going to let this raspy kid have a singing role?”
Well, guess what? The song is called “A Place Called Slaughter Race,” and it’s actually really catchy. It’s even funnier in the movie, where you can see the visuals and know the characters featured in the song.
That’s the major one. Other minor ones include the princesses all using their powers to help save Ralph at the end of the movie (well, most of them), taking a jab at themselves for not including the bunny scene in the movie itself, and the Ebay bidding war that got them into their money troubles in the first place.
My only real peeve with the movie is the lack of Vanellope using her powers. There are so many times where she’s being chased or needs to get out of somewhere, and that is the one thing that her power is used for. I think she only got to use it twice: once when stealing Shank’s car, and once when hiding in the Disney princess room.
I would complain about the movie leaving out Felix and Calhoun, except for the one parenting joke at the end of the movie. It would have been nice to see them initially struggling with the candy kids, but ignoring their parenting for the entire movie seems justified when their “secret to raising the perfect children” is not-quite revealed at the end of the movie.
I always try my best to leave out spoilers in the main review and then dump them all into a small section at the end. But unfortunately, I count pretty much everything I’m going to say in this section as a spoiler. So if you’re not interested in those, please skip to the next section.
The main emotional conflicts in the story are Vanellope’s desire to leave the predictable old game Sugar Rush and join the dynamic online game Slaughter Race, and Ralph coping with the idea that his best (and only?) friend might leave him. It seems like a very basic lesson, but as I’ve mentioned in a few reviews before, I don’t mind repeating lessons if people in real life never seem to remember them. I can very easily imagine kids all over the country struggling with their best friends moving away, or adults who are going through midlife crises. Heck, my dad is moving to Denmark, and my family has to cope with him being gone, and he has to cope with losing most if not all of his friends, as well.
And though I thought the movie was going to somehow cop out and say that Ralph goes wither her, or Vanellope realizes that there is something more fulfilling in Sugar Rush, it never happened. She actually leaves the arcade forever, even though her game gets fixed, and Ralph has to learn how to make other friends. It’s a surprisingly mature resolution, so mature that I bet most adults would have a tough time swallowing its wisdom.
It’s not a shoe-horned conflict, either. It seems to grow naturally out of Vanellope and Ralph’s world, experiences, and personalities. And it does make sense that Ralph, who never had any friends before Vanellope, wouldn’t know how to deal with these friendship lessons even though he’s roughly thirty-six years old.
I also found it interesting that Vanellope’s true internal conflict isn’t explicitly revealed until a good way into the movie. I thought the plot would resolve when they finally bought the steering wheel, but by that point it seems more like a subplot. This also gave the Disney princesses a reason to be in the movie, besides letting Disney employees take a jab at themselves and attempting to include Vanellope in the princess lineup (even though Mulan somehow qualifies).
So even though the movie’s message doesn’t apply to me directly, I still feel strongly that the message is important for people to see at least one more time.
Overall, I highly recommend going to see Ralph Breaks the Internet, especially if you were a fan of the original. But the movie does a good job of exposition, so even my parents (who have never seen the original) could very easily follow along. Don’t miss out on this just because it’s a sequel and therefore can’t be good, or because of some ideological stance against adding onto old content. It’s engaging, hilarious, and goddammit it’s smart. My only regret is that it’s going to take so long to come out on DVD.