Wreck It Ralph created both a new Disney franchise and a new video game hero. The tie-in game Fix It Felix, JR, of which Ralph was the Donkey Kong to Felix’s Mario, was a retro treat too. For the sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Wreck It Ralph expands to encompass the entire internet.
When the steering wheel breaks on Sugar Rush, a replacement part would cost too much for the arcade to replace. So Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarh Silverman) go into the internet to buy the wheel on eBay. Problem is, they need money so Ralph starts making viral videos to earn enough to save Vanellope’s game.
The colorful, detailed animation makes the old school arcade world look even richer, and just wait until you see the film’s portrayal of the internet. Websites are represented as cities and buildings. Characters float in bubbles around websites and there are plenty of background jokes in each frame.
Ralph Breaks the Internet knows all of our online frustrations and personifies then. Internet outages, pop up ads and blockers, and search engines have feelings too in Wreck It Ralph.
The plot moves fast. We very quickly learn the stakes for Sugar Rush and how the Internet works from the inside. Then we learn about Venellope’s longing needs and the rift it creates between her and Ralph. It almost moves too fast. None of these ideas have time to breathe before it’s on to the next one. And the movie is long for kids at 112 minutes. It could have afforded to focus on a few of these ideas more in depth.
But, it’s a fun ride. There is an exciting car chase through the open world racing game Slaughter Lane. The animation keeps up the intensity for excitement and stakes. It also captures clumsy animation of other types of games, like characters walking in circles in place, or jerky 8 bit glitches interacting with smooth 3D. The final monster in the movie is a real feat of animation we won’t spoil for you.
It’s also fun when Vanellope meets the other Disney princesses. Formerly 2D princesses convert well to 3D to match the Elsas and Rapunzels. While the princesses have a fun feminist twist, Vanellope isn’t exactly in the princess mold. She’s more of an underdog protagonist and finds her own way.
With all the new stuff, Felix (Jack McBrayer) is sidelined. It looks like he and Calhoun (Jane Lynch) will have a fun subplot but we don’t really return to it while Ralph and Vanellope are in the Internet.
Reilly and Silverman seen at home in these roles. Their voices are natural and comfortable. New voices like Gal Gadot fit in well, and she’s just as powerful in animation as she is in live-action.
Be sure to stay through all the end credits. While post-credit rags are now common, Ralph Breaks the Internet has one last internet specific joke. Kids and their parents both will laugh at Ralph’s spoofs of online behavior, and when the kids grow up they’ll be prepared for some of the downsides of going online.