“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

The “Wreck-It Ralph” sequel is finally here. Six years after the original story, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are still best friends in their arcade game world. Through an accident, the Sugar Rush arcade steering wheel used to control Vanellope’s game is broken in the arcade, and the arcade’s owner finds a replacement part on eBay…but determines it costs more than the game itself is making him in a given year. So he decides to unplug the game and sell it off for scrap. Vanellope and Ralph decide they could go to the Internet, find this eBay place, and get the part sent to the arcade.

What follows is a silly and mostly light-hearted affair, with more product placement than can be imagined. While the first film featured numerous famous and well-known video game characters, here they are replaced with the logos and names of many popular Internet companies, besides the aforementioned eBay, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, YouTube, SnapChat, Pinterest, and many others.

And, of course, if you’ve seen the trailers you know that we also get many of the Disney princesses in some of the funnier scenes in the film. Vanellope happens upon them when they are on break from appearing in various shows and quizzes (“Which princess is your BFF?”) on Disney websites. One memorable quip is when Merida, of “Brave” fame, says something in her thick Scottish accent and Vanellope whispers to the other princesses to find out what she said. They respond that they don’t know, because “She’s from that other studio.” (Also, points given that for the modern princesses, all are portrayed by their original actresses.)

As for the title…well, in their quest to get the item from eBay, our heroes realize they need to make some money to pay for the replacement part and have it shipped to the arcade. They try their hand at loot farming in video games and making viral videos to earn the digital funds. Along the way many hijinks ensue, including breaking many things. His name is Wreck-It after all. Along the way both Ralph and Vanellope learn valuable lessons on what it means to be a good friend to someone, and how and when to let go.

While well made, and well voiced, the movie seems to lack some of the magic of the original. Younger audiences will likely enjoy the film, and there are plenty of embedded “adult” jokes for the grown ups (a search engine character exclaims casually to an unnamed avatar, “I have 130 results for ‘Where does my high school girlfriend live now?’ “). But it seems Disney spent more time trying to get as many pop-culture, Internet themed references as it could in the film’s 112 minute runtime, rather than focusing more on making it a character-driven piece. The overall morals of the story may be well-represented, but they are buried in a deluge of glitz and needless diversions that don’t really add much to the proceedings.

Is it worth a watch? Most likely. It’s a Disney animated film, and I will always have a soft spot for these films whether they are traditionally animated or, like Ralph and Vanellope, computer animated. Just in this instance I think the movie could have been edited down and the story tightened up just a bit more.

Final Grade: C+

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