Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
Director: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot
Synopsis: Six years after the events of "Wreck-It Ralph," Ralph and Vanellope, now friends, discover a wi-fi router in their arcade, leading them into a new adventure.
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
MPAA Rating: PG (for some action and rude humor)
Release Date: November 21, 2018
When it comes to inventive storytelling in the animated genre, few films outside of Pixar have encapsulated the idea as much as 2012's Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore). The film, whose protagonist was a unsatisfied video game character named Ralph (John C. Reilly), successfully delivered humor for younger and older audiences while also serving as a potent reminder of the importance of not confining oneself to one apparent predetermined identity in life, no matter the situation. These ideas, combined with dazzling animation and the throwback video game world, made the film a huge hit at the box office and with critics.
It's surprising that it's been six years before we've gotten a sequel, but it's finally arrived. This time around, Ralph and his best friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) travel to the massive world of the Internet seeking a replacement part to Vanellope's game "Sugar Rush," which was unplugged and will forever remain so unless the duo can find the part and the means to pay for it.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is one of those sequels that does everything a good sequel should do--it expands the world its characters inhabit while also further developing those characters we loved and followed in the first film. It presents new and fresh material yet brings back the elements that made the first film work so well. The eye-poppingly colorful animation world is back, along with the lighthearted humor and sense of fun and wonder. Sure, there's opportunity for shameless product placement this go around (which Disney takes full advantage of), but the Internet world, just like the video game world in the first film, is so lavishly and ingeniously depicted that one can't help but marvel.
While the film certainly brings out plenty of laughs (that once again amuse the young and older alike), it's once again the powerful ideas underneath that drive the film and give it a beating heart. The film focuses on the painfully temporary nature of friendship, as well as the value of unpredictability in life. Just as the first film brought Ralph and Vanellope together, this one slowly drives them apart. Becoming increasingly dissatisfied with her game because of its predictable racing tracks, Vanellope seeks a different life, one that offers something new, exciting, and challenging. Ralph, on the other hand, is perfectly content living every day the same in his game, going through the same motions and lifestyle. He wants the same for Vanellope, and figures if she leaves her game and becomes physically distant, then their friendship will suffer and even perish. As a result, he makes a desperate and selfish attempt to convince her to stay, and (as happens in the real world) that decision fractures their friendship. Ultimately, the pair are able to repair their friendship, with Ralph learning the painful but valuable lesson that true friendship doesn't require being physically close or in everyday contact, but rather the strongest friendships are those that allow each person to pursue their own interests and dreams, with each still remembering and connecting with the other whenever time allows.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is entertaining, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. It hits all the chords of a good sequel, expanding its already vibrant world into a fresh and exciting new one, while further developing its characters and their relationships. Though it doesn't pack as many surprises as the first film, it still offers a fun, engaging and moving experience, one that'll surely be remembered long after the credits roll.
Written by Anthony Watkins, January 16, 2019