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Ralph Breaks the Internet – Movie Review

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Ralph Breaks the Internet – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

Six years ago, Disney Animation and director Rich Moore brought the world of arcade games to stunning computer animated life in Wreck-It Ralph. Recognizing the opportunity that can come from going inside the Internet, Moore (now sharing co-directing credit with Phil Johnston) and his team have crafted a visually inventive World Wide Web. However, the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope continues here with plenty of the heart that fueled the first film. The filmmakers have inserted many brands, including an extended sequence celebrating Disney’s legacy and many acquisitions, and yet they feel organic to this world and the story being told.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is a sequel that continues where the first film left off in a natural way. The circumstances that lead to Ralph and Vanellope going online allow for the proper stakes and ticking clock, while also testing the characters. Moore and Johnston, along with screenwriter Pamela Ribon, don’t waste much time in showing off the glorious Internet shown here. The link between the Internet and real world users is clever, evoking almost a Tron feeling with the various avatars walking around this giant, glowing metropolis. The filmmakers particularly have a lot of fun with the brand names, finding some clever ways of depicting them. Scenes set in Amazon and eBay take full advantage of those websites’ purposes and it never feels like the movie stops to advertise a product.

Even the hilarious scene at “Oh My Disney” works in developing Vanellope’s character. The Disney Princess scene has some fun with their established personalities and even mocks the common misconceptions about them. However, the sequence manages to avoid being self-congratulatory, especially with how it leads into a delightful Alan Menken-penned musical number. The more unique locations of Ralph Breaks the Internet also have their own charm, including the animators successfully creating the style of an online street-racing video game. One of the most delightful side characters introduced here is search engine KnowsMore. The second time Alan Tudyk has put on an unrecognizable voice in a Wreck-It Ralph movie, his out-of-control Auto Complete function allows for some big laughs. Kudos should also go to the hand-drawn animators responsible for his spectacled eyes.

At the heart of it is a touching story about what it means to be a friend. The filmmakers aren’t afraid of highlighting Ralph and Vanellope’s flaws and calling them out for their behaviour, while still having them remain likeable. The Internet feels like a natural location to tackle this subject and the decisions characters make fit logically within the story. That allows Ralph Breaks the Internet to be more than a hilarious comedy. The best of Disney animation has often brought these messages to the audience that work on multiple levels. There are some surprising directions taken here, allowing the finale to not follow the predicted path.

While it doesn’t quite reach the same level as Wreck-It Ralph, this is still a sequel that does the job of expanding its lead characters and taking them on a new journey. There are laughs a-plenty, which is not surprising, when you have Rich Moore leading the way. Having cut his teeth on the likes of The Critic and Futurama and directing some of the more beloved Simpsons episodes, he is a welcome addition to the Disney Animation team. Phil Johnston, Pamela Ribon and the incredibly talented storyboard artists, character designers, production designers and animators also deserve recognition for all of the impressive work they’ve put into this project. Whether there will be a third Wreck-It Ralph remains to be seen, but the folks at Disney have crafted two charming and beautifully mounted productions they should be proud of.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison