When Wreck It Ralph burst into the scene in 2012, it was a game changer, pun very much intended, because it was a perfect mix of family fun, clever nostalgia, and cutting edge animation. The story pushed beyond the basics of video game references, building a world all its own and 6 years later, the impact and connection the film has made still remains strong and true. Now we have finally arrived at the expected sequel, and in short, it does not disappoint.
The times are changing for Ralph and his video game companions. We are no longer in the golden era of arcade games, past the time of after school high score bragging rights, and are now thrust into the nonstop evolution of the digital age. Ralph Breaks the Internet brings that front and center, being the pendulum of old school and new age, finding new barriers to break along the way. That Wreck It Ralph charm from the first film is definitely there, but in a lot of ways, we get a richer and stronger focus in the writing that really drives this one home. Yes, we get the fun and humor filled moments you’d expect, flashy new Easter Eggs and the glitz and glam of the Internet, but take all that away and you still get so much out of Ralph Breaks the Internet. The beating heart of this movie comes from Ralph and Vanellope alone, no matter how cool everything else still is.
Friendship and the foundations of what it means to be a friend are what really make this film soar beyond expectations, giving us all a little more than we could have hoped for. It all starts with a need for balance and compromise. Ralph, who loves his life in the arcade, just wants things to remain the same. All the while, Vanellope struggles with her own desires to find something more than she has, something challenging and exciting. Yet, those differences are not the end game, at least, not right away.
Right off the bat, Ralph steps in and tries to help Vanellope by creating a new course path for Sugar Rush. Despite those efforts blowing up in Ralph’s face, as we can guess from his previous schemes, the intentions are golden in virtue, showing us how important Vanellope’s happiness is to Ralph. Their partnership is put through the ultimate test, and through the help of Disney magic throughout the film, Ralph and Vanellope come out stronger and more interesting than ever before.
Both endure bumps and bruises along the way, fighting self doubt, selfish temptations, and more personal obstacles. There’s a lot more at stake than before, and viewers are taken on a much more emotional journey. Pay close attention to these two throughout the film, as once again John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman strike gold with their performances, finding new ways to make us laugh, cry, and beg for more.
Though we do get some well deserved cameos from a few of our old favorites, like Felix and Calhoun, it’s all about Ralph and Vanellope this time around which shifts the formula slightly but doesn’t stray too far off the race track. There are still plenty of new faces to keep you occupied, like Gal Gadot’s fierce street racing queen, Shank. She’s powerful, witty, and basically a video game version of Gadot’s Diana from Wonder Woman. Still, Shank, like many of the new faces and supporting characters we run into, each serve a clear goal to help our heroes find their way.
This includes, of course, our pack of Disney Princesses. The trailer does showcase them quite prominently, but the film hones in and gives us just enough to tease without dominating the film. What we get instead is a chance for Vanellope to discover her own path, and with the advice of the princesses, she finds that moment in the spotlight and makes it her own. Though, without giving away any spoilers, it definitely breaks convention, leaving you with a wacky and quite interesting satire on what it means to be a princess. Just like Mister Toad’s Wild Ride, we get thrown and tossed in every direction, break every wall, and knock down anyone in the way, making a beautiful and very memorable mess.
We don’t get a villain, a evil force that threatens to take over the world and destroy everything in its path, or even an over the top plot twist. Ralph Breaks the Internet doesn’t need them and instead allows both Ralph and Vanellope to fight their own battles and have some real time to discover what matters most to them. There is a balance between self and others, between your own needs and those of your friends. This movie plays into that idea, and crafts it all together beautifully.
We all need something to relate to, something more than a simple animated feature. Ralph Breaks the Internet has that depth, but doesn’t forget the fun that got us all in the theater in the first place. If any lesson is to be taken from this film, it’s that sometimes we need to take a step back and look into the mirror. We all have our struggles, our faults, and trials, but in the end, we can work towards a better version of ourselves by finding our flaws, listening to others, and putting someone else first once and a while. Though, let’s not forget to take a few seconds every now and then to look up funny memes and viral videos, because trust me, there’s always time for that.
It’s a sugar rush of excitement, and a story that will stay close to your heart right up until a surprise sneak peak comes your way at the end. Make sure to stay behind when the credits begin to role, you won’t be disappointed.