Arts movie review

Ralph memes the Internet

Giant ad for the Internet meets toxic friendship

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Vanellope von Schweetz poses for a selfie with various Disney princesses in the film 'Ralph Breaks the Internet.'
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Ralph Breaks the InternetDirected by Rich Moore & Phil Johnston
Screenplay by Phil Johnston & Pamela Ribon
Starring Sarah Silverman, John C. Reilly, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson
Rated PG, Releases Nov. 21

Ralph Breaks the Internet is the slightly-anticipated sequel to the well-received Wreck-It Ralph, originally released in 2012. The story picks up six years after the first movie, and Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have had the exact same routine every day. So, when Vanellope expresses boredom with her life, Ralph immediately tries “fixing” it. But surprise! He actually ends up wrecking her game, leading to the rest of the plot. The two enter the Internet in hopes of finding a game part that would fix Vanellope’s game, but what they actually find is so much more.

The beginning of the movie started off pretty slowly, providing a long-winded recap of the first Wreck-It Ralph. However, we didn’t think it was a very necessary or interesting introduction, and we thought diving straight into the new movie plot would have been more entertaining. About a third of the way through the movie, the movie picked up pace and became funnier.

Before walking in, we initially thought this would just be a better version of The Emoji Movie. Although that’s not actually hard, the Internet is a tricky thing to portray accurately and entertainingly in a film. Part of the plot takes place in Oh My Disney (Disney’s version of Buzzfeed), which felt a little like a huge Disney advertisement in a Disney movie. But for Disney fans, it was still definitely exciting to see some of our favorite characters interact on screen.

The rest of the movie takes place at a company called BuzzTube (real creative, we know), which did a decent job of showing the goods and bads of the Internet. Ralph essentially becomes a YouTuber to make money to buy the game part. To Disney’s credit, it got a lot of dumb Internet trends right, like Bob Ross tutorials and screaming goats. Ralph immediately sees the benefits of going viral and goes through every single trend in a day to the delight of both the consumers and the head of BuzzTube, Yes! (Taraji P. Henson). It was a little scary to see how many videos he had to make to still be relevant, but it reflected the sad truth of the Internet today. There was also a brief scene in which Ralph explores the comment section of one of his videos and learns that people can be cruel online in a different way than to your face. There could have been more development here on the downsides of the Internet, but the plot quickly barreled on.

Ralph Breaks the Internet isn’t necessarily the most original film in terms of overarching theme, but it achieves its message well. We found it particularly interesting because the first film already addressed both Ralph’s and Vanellope’s initial self-esteem issues. Ralph discovers he can be a hero, and Vanellope learns she’s not an unimportant glitch, but actually the princess of an entire kingdom. So in this film they chose to address the actual friendship between the two.

Ralph and Vanellope do not have a perfect friendship, but that’s what made the movie even better. Vanellope tries too hard to protect Ralph’s feelings, and Ralph can’t get over the idea that he is not Vanellope’s only friend. However, Ralph and Vanellope open their eyes to the flaws of their personalities, making their friendship stronger. Is this the best plot? No. But it addresses a real issue of toxic friendship and the idea of direct communication to improve on a “strong” relationship.

We loved the ending of this movie and how it wasn’t “clichéd” and “happily ever after,” but well-thought out and realistic. It really spoke to us because of the idea of long-distance friendships, especially since both of us just graduated from high school and are still getting used to not seeing our friends back home every day. One quote that stood out to us was: “Best friends don’t have to have the same dreams.”

Overall, Disney has definitely released worse sequels. As Wreck-It Ralph is one of our favorite Disney films, we were really hoping the second would be just as good. And, for the most part, we weren’t disappointed.