Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet
Brandon Richardson | 3/01/2018
While not as good as the first, this sequel still tugs at the heart strings and reinvents the animated movie.
For many years now, Disney has been producing nostalgic content almost exclusively. Aside from the traditional end-of-year “Best Animated Feature” favourite, the biggest entertainment company in the world has dominated the market with an onslaught of live-action remakes, Star Wars revivals or comic book universes. Much like its predecessor, Ralph Breaks the Internet is able to capitalise on Disney’s unparalleled talents for nostalgia and emotionally impactful storytelling.
John C. Reilly reprises his role as the over-eager and insecure Wreck-it Ralph, along with his newfound best buddy Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). In Ralph’s ventures to appease Vanellope’s desire for new and exciting adventures accidentally lead to her arcade machine being broken, leaving all its inhabitants homeless. In a desperate attempt to find the parts to repair her game, the pair flee to the vast and exciting world of the internet. Quickly overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the World Wide Web, seek the help of its inhabitants to raise the funds needed for the new part. When their plan to steal and sell a rare item from outlaw driver Shank (Gal Gadot), they turn to Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), chief algorithm of the popular video-sharing website BuzzzTube, to transform Ralph into a viral sensation and save Vanellope’s home.
In recent times, Hollywood’s attempts to anthropomorphise the internet and its unique culture have failed to show an appreciation for its rapidly changing landscape (read the The Emoji Movie). By showing the transition of Ralph from bumbling tech novice to savvy internet star, directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore manage to appeal to those who have let the tech boom escape them without doubling down on cringe-inducing, out of date memes that go down poorly with the younger audience. This understanding of audience is best on display in a hilariously self-aware journey through the Oh My Disney website. Touching on a variety of Disney movie and audience tropes, most notable are poignant observations on the stereotypical damsel-in-distress role that so many early Disney films centre on. Unfortunately, the films wit is somewhat more superficial outside of these few scenes, settling for a few too many jokes about Ralph’s incompetence with technology.
At a deeper level, the film examines how the interconnected world of the internet, particularly social media, tends to exacerbate our insecurities. The draw of the limitless potential of an online racing game to Vanellope fractures her relationship with Ralph, who finds comfort in the regular routine of the arcade. As Ralph’s desperate attachment to his first friend intensifies, so too does his insecurity about his inherently destructive nature, and how that hindered his relationships for so long. Although the climax of this film isn’t quite as emotionally accessible as Ralph’s Iron Giant-reminiscent heroics of the first film, there is a strong message that carries weight for those that have ever faced a deep challenge to a close friendship. Such challenges are commonplace for high school students in the US being distributed across the country’s colleges. As such, it may be that such a message is not as easily accessible in Australia, whose universities are markedly less competitive.
Overall, Johnston and Moore have brought us a film that, while not quite being as surprising and moving as its predecessor, manages to inject a fresh brand of metahumour into their film that we have not seen from Disney before.
Packaging this comedy with its satire on the perils of the internet ensure that Ralph Breaks the Internet will be a memorable film for all audiences.