Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, and Gal Gadot.
Written by: Phil Johnston (screenplay by), Pamela Ribon (screenplay by)
Directed by: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Run Time: 1hr, 52 min
Full Disclosure: My viewing experience was tainted by a horrible audience who insisted on being on their phones, a representative from Disney telling everyone to get off their phones (despite not telling them prior to not be on their phones because he was busy playing the Ralph VR game), and one man who kept looking for the rest of his party while the film was 15 minutes in.
Has it really be six years since Wreck it Ralph? I ask that because the first film really left no impression on me. In fact, if it weren’t for Sarah Silverman’s Vanellope mentioning how much time she has been friends with Ralph (John C. Reilly) I wouldn’t have done a double check on it. I thought it was serviceable as a fun cartoon movie with a decent mix of eighties video game nostalgia that both parents and kids could enjoy. This sequel, however, is more for Millennials that grew up with the internet and have had barely any life without.
The premise, which took me a while to sift through, deals with Ralph enjoying his life, working at his game (“Wreck-It Ralph”), and hanging out in with his best friend, Vanellope, after hours. Life is sweet for Ralph and couldn’t be any better. Vanellope, on the other hand, is tired of going in circles in her own game (a racing one called “Sugar Rush”, if you forgot) and wants something more. When the internet is installed at their arcade, circumstances push them into exploring the digital world.
Their mission is to find a place called eBay, get a new part for Vanellope’s damaged arcade game, and get back before the game is scrapped. Once there, the jokes and mundane circumstances of Google, YouTube, Spam, and Viruses take hold. What is amazing is that two characters who aren’t registered users are somehow allowed to bid and win on the part they need to fix the game. Now if they were “Users” like in the Tron movie (which is referenced numerous times) perhaps I could buy into it. However, when they do win the bid and have no money to check out, they find out that if they have a popular viral video they can pay for it. Wait, what? All this is a plot device to get Vanellope to take part in a racing game called “Slaughter Race”. Here, Vanellope has no rules as the race just goes on and on. For the first time in her life, she feels at home.
Outside of the stunning animation and a great Disney stopover on the internet where Vanellope meets all the Disney Princess (sans Princess Leia of course), the film is pretty much a snore fest. I found myself occasionally laughing at things that were in the background (A Chat Room Hotel) than being pulled into the story of two characters who were friends that simply outgrew one another. To take it further, I found myself hoping that Ralph’s hired virus (to stop the “Slaughter Race”) would actually bring down the whole internet. Should I be rooting for the destruction of an entire world (as well as how you are reading this review)? I kept thinking, "fail Ralph, fail Ralph" because if Facebook, Twitter, and everything else just went away the world would be a better place.
Ralph Breaks the Internet will be fun for the kids under ten, and the parents that will enjoy seeing the Disney Princesses strike back in a scene that should have just been a 30-minute holiday special. Those of us that work on the internet will hope that Ralph fails in stopping the virus. The lesson here is that we do grow, mature, and move on from friends, and its part of life. I just wish Disney could have told that story a lot better or picked something else for Vanellope and Ralph to do. Maybe in 6 more years, we’ll get another one. You’ll have to tell me how it is.