How far would you go to save your best friend? “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” released Nov. 21, explores the answers to that question.
The sequel to the surprise hit “Wreck It Ralph” (2013), sees the title character of Ralph (John C. Riley) and his best friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), two fictional arcade game characters, return for an even better adventure than their first one.
Set six years after the events of “Wreck It Ralph,” the movie features the pair of Ralph and Vanellope who journey outside their arcade, the previous films setting, and out into the wilderness of the World Wide Web. The pair venture into the unknown to find the only remaining replacement part for Vanellope’s game , which was accidently broken by Ralph. Without the part, Sugar Rush — the game that Vanellope is a character in — will be scrapped, and Vanellope won’t have a place to live.
However, after a misunderstanding over the concept of money, the pair find themselves $27,001 in debt and running out of time to secure the replacement part that’ll save Vanellope’s game.
Directed by Rich Moore (“Zootopia,” “Futurama”) and Phil Johnston (“Wreck It Ralph,” “The Brothers Grimly”), “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a solid film and examines friendships through the lens of the interconnected modern world.
Moore and Johnson make the most of their setting presenting the internet as a sprawling urban jungle with a dark underbelly. Major companies such as Google, Twitter and Snapchat get decent amounts of screen time. However, each company is uniquely represented within the universe of the movie — Twitter for example is presented as a massive tree with actual birds “tweeting” at each other.
There’s an incredible number of references through the film which tie the digital landscape of the movie into the actual history of the internet. They are so numerous a viewer might have to sit through multiple viewings to catch the all the layered references. Characters name drop long-forgotten websites such as Friendster, and the film features settings such as the abandoned Dial-up Expressway and the “dark web.”
Ralph and Vanellope run into a host of characters during their journey, from returning characters, such as Space Marine Calhoun (Jane Lynch) and Felix (Jack McBrayer) to newcomers, such as Shank (Gal Gadot). Shank plays the main character in a fictional video game “Slaughter Race.” Godot’s portrayal is tender and comforting, and her role as a mentor and friend to Vanellope is a point of conflict for Ralph.
The cast also features Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures,” “Empire”) as Yess, the head algorithm for a Youtube-like website called BuzzTube. Henson’s role is written perfectly to fit her personality which allows her character to demonstrate a range of emotions, which adds to the overall message of the movie.
The writing is another high point for the majority of the film, but it does occasionally write itself into a corner. Several times during the movie, the characters were placed into difficult situations with no way out and then magically get out of them without and explanation for the viewer. Aside from a few small setbacks, there were several standout scenes within the almost two-hour run time.
One example is the commonly promoted scene in the buildup to the film’s release, the scene where Vanellope interacts with the Disney Princesses. The scene is better than advertised and is stuffed with jokes poking fun at the stereotypes of the standard Disney Princesses. The fact the movie was distributed by Disney makes the bit even funnier.
The film is bolstered by above average animation throughout including a colorful and technically complex climax scene, reminiscent of the final scene from the original “King Kong” (1933) which is incredible to behold on the big screen. However, as with other parts of the film, the visuals aren’t perfect and in several scenes, the typically life-like characters appear wooden and puppet-like.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” isn’t a fantastic movie, but the film’s heartfelt and deep-seeded emphasis on friendship are more than enough to cover the few minor missteps.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is rated PG, and is in theaters nationwide Nov. 21.