Making a sequel to Wreck-It Ralph was going to be no easy task. A movie ripe with video game references, an engaging story, and a gut punching ending seemed like it could be a good one and done movie. Ralph Breaks the Internet is a fun sequel to the original film, but nowhere near as clever and engaging. At its heart, it explores a compelling tale of friendship while using the internet as its backdrop to make jokes and reference for kids and adults alike. While some scenes may not be as entertaining as others, the sum of its parts is all around enjoyable.
When Vanellope’s game part breaks and the risk of her home being gone forever, Ralph and Vanellope embark on a journey to the internet to find the part and restore the game to its rightful state. Along the way they encounter all of the different parts of the internet, both enjoyable and scary in order to achieve their objective and get home safely.
At the core of the movie is the friendship between Ralph and Vanellope and that is the ultimate driving force for the story. It builds upon the foundation of the first film and shows the genuine bond these two share. While Ralph is comfortable in his current life, Vanellope yearns for something different and new and with the internet at their fingertips it opens a wide variety of options for both of them to explore.
The movie’s message on friendship is its greatest strength. It highlights both the positives and negatives that spur from friendships and delivers a very real heart to its story. While Vanellope is fascinated by all the new things and possibilities she can explore, Ralph enjoys the life they already have and doesn’t want anything to change. Being best friends with someone can be difficult, especially when opinions and ideas are different from one another. But the movie wisely explores whether those differences matter and what truly makes a friendship worthwhile. It delves into how each of the two characters view their friendship and the journey they take together is a very real one that most kids and adults can very much relate to.
The background to this story of friendship is the internet, and boy does the movie do its best to have fun with that setting. There is a multitude of possibilities to explore on the internet and the movie can not get through them all, but the ones they do explore don’t feel entirely original in the jokes they make. They explore EBay, Youtube, Google, etc. but their time there is more of a pit stop for a joke and then they take off. The places the movie does choose to linger on though drag on a bit much and ultimately loses some of the fun of having the internet as your playground.
The best jokes, however, are in the trailers. The scenes that feature the trip to the “Disney” website show how the studio has made itself self aware and it plays to great effect. Making references to all the various properties Disney has acquired from the princesses to Star Wars is fun, exciting, and often hilarious. It shows the originality that Disney has with its content and how they have exited from one monotonous era into one that is fresh and full. But if you have seen the trailers, chances are some of the best fun moments are already spoiled for you which can be a bit disappointing.
Part of the charm of the first film was all the video game references and characters that packed in which were quick, fun, and witty. Here, the movie lingers on some of those references and the wit and charm quickly die out the longer you spend there. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is definitely funny. I just wish they hit on more areas quickly rather than dedicating more time to one or two specific areas of the internet.
Ultimately, this is a story of friendship and the bond that Vanellope and Ralph share. The story that follows is a fulfilling and deep one that speaks volumes to the friendships we have in our own lives. That story is interceded with some good humor albeit it does get old fast cheapening some of the impact of the overall narrative. But its message is impactful and one that I will remember. Ralph Breaks the Internet may not be the best sequel to the original film, but it’s able to be kept alive thanks to the thing that Disney does best: heart.
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