Set six years after 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph Breaks The Internet (RBTI) takes the titular Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) out of the video arcade and into the wild, wild web that is the Internet.
It all begins when the steering wheel controller on the Sugar Rush arcade game console breaks and the game is unplugged, Vanellope and all of the Sugar Rush residents find themselves game-less and thus, homeless.
Learning that the only way to get a replacement steering wheel is through eBay, Ralph and Vanellope go into the Internet to get it. There, their friendship is tested when they end up in Slaughter Race, a Grand Theft Auto-like game that seduces the little racer with its free-for-all gameplay.
The term ‘breaking the Internet’ is such a cliche these days. Everyone and their cute puppy seems to be out to do that nowadays, and trends are going by so quickly that even as I write this sentence, the latest viral video/post has already become ancient history.
However, the Internet as shown in this movie seems so fragile and superficial that even Vanellope could break it herself, let alone a big strong guy like Ralph.
Sure, RBTI’s depiction of the online world is a visual wonder, depicted as a sprawling metropolis with human internet users walking about in cute square headed avatars, and the prerequisite nods to some of the biggest online brands and logos everywhere. However, rather than a deep dive into the world of the Internet, RBTI just skims the surface of that infinite ocean of data, with eBay and Disney’s own Oh My Disney portal the only ‘real world’ entities to get more than the cursory ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss it’ cameo.
There are other fictional online brands though, such as Buzztube (where people get money for likes), and the search engine Knowsmore (voiced by Alan Tudyk), but other than that, most of the time you wish they had done more with real-life megabrands like Google (which does get in on the action in a different way), Twitter, or Facebook, especially considering how entrenched these brands are in our lives these days.
Meanwhile, the scale and scope of the story has grown, but the lead characters seem to be struggling to catch up with it. Wreck-It Ralph gave us the unique story of a bad guy who wanted to be good, but unfortunately, in becoming good, he seems to have lost a big part of what made the character charming. Here, Ralph has been reduced to an insecure, simple-minded lug whose over-protectiveness of Vanellope gets more and more annoying with each passing scene. And that’s not even mentioning the Ralph-centric finale, in which things REALLy get blown out of proportion.
Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoyed myself immensely with this movie, and it’s largely down to two things – Vanellope, and yes, the Disney Princesses.
(Also read: Meet the man who brought Disney Princesses to life)
Vanellope races away with the show this time around. Sarah Silverman’s high-pitched voice performance still makes you cringe every now and then, but her character has a much more satisfying and rounded arc in this movie. And as befitting her new role as a Disney Princess, she even gets her own song and dance sequence featuring a touching ballad titled… wait for it… A Place Called Slaughter Race.
This being a movie about two video game characters, it’s no surprise that some of RBTI’s best parts comes when Ralph and Vanellope venture into Slaughter Race. Outside of it, the Oh My Disney sequence is the one that stands out the most, with all its Easter eggs involving Disney-owned properties like Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar.
The hugely anticipated Disney Princesses scene, especially, is one of the highlights of the movie – uproariously funny and charming with a tinge of nostalgia thrown in, it manages to strike that balance between making fun of the characters, while still managing to maintain the squeaky clean personalities and images of Disney’s prized properties.
If you were ever a fan of the Princesses, this movie is worth watching just for their cameos. Between them and Vanellope’s surprisingly satisfying arc, it’s enough to make you wish that this movie was called Vanellope And The Disney Princesses instead of being named after Ralph.
Ralph Breaks The Internet
Directors: Rich Moore and Phil Johnston
Voice cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Ed O’Neill, Alan Tudyk, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Alfred Molina.