Video-game bad guy Ralph and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz leave the comforts of Litwak’s arcade in an attempt to save her game, Sugar Rush
By J. Richarz
In the sequel “Ralph Breaks The Internet” Disney touches the perks and negative sides of the internet in a fun and entertaining way. It also shows how Ralph and Vanellope’s friendship is challenged. Directed by Phil Johnston and Rich Moore, known from Zootopia (2016) and screenplay writer Pamela Ribon, who also wrote the screenplay for MOANA (2016). The first movie “Wreck-It Ralph” was fun, fresh, heartfelt, richly developed, so our expectations for this one are high!!
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In “Ralph Breaks The Internet”, Wreck-It Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) are leaving the well-known backwater arcade and explore the shining metropolis of the web. The story sacrifices nostalgia in favor of the buzz of the now. It doesn’t have the emotional impact of the first film, but as a winking romp through pop culture, especially in a hilarious reunion of all the Disney princesses, from Snow White to Merida from “Brave.” Throughout the adventures of the internet and its effect on the real world, Ralph and Vanellope’s friendship is tested.
The internet is envisioned as a sprawling metropolis constructed of light, a platonically perfect version of the world-city in “Star Wars.” Ralph and Vanellope mingle with robotic, square-headed little avatars, representing web browsers in the real world, as well as “netizens” such as KnowsMore (Alan Tudyk), a nerdy search engine, and Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), a blue-skinned algorithm for a site called BuzzzTube, very much alike to BuzzFeed, who promises to make Ralph a viral celebrity.
Having resolved his existential crisis, evil-in-game-only Ralph is happy just hanging out with his new BFF, while Vanellope is feeling a little left alone. But when her game, Sugar Rush, is about to be scrapped thanks to a broken steering wheel, the digital odd couple sneak through the forbidden portal to the WiFi network so they can find a replacement part on eBay.
Disney’s Imagineers have done the basic work of building a story arc, introducing a rival for Vanellope’s friendship in Shank (Gal Gadot), a very cool baddie from a game called Slaughter Race. But the real fun here is the parade of pop-culture in-jokes, culminating in our heroes’ arrival at Disney.
What makes the movie compelling is that it is a heightened reflection of our experience — our love affair, really — with our gadgets, our apps and, yes, our brands. Despite brief forays into the Dark Web and the horrors of “reading the comments,” it’s very much a celebratory depiction, and while that certainly serves the interest of a big corporation like Disney, it keeps us in our seats because it taps into our wonder at all the miracles that our new saints — Jobs, Gates, Zuckerberg, and Bezos — have wrought for us.
And in us we don’t only mean the kids, yes we are talking about us. Adults. Students. Kids.