After 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph took us on a charming, nostalgia-soaked journey into the retro universe of low-res arcade games, it seems fitting that its sequel, Ralph Breaks The Internet, should go bigger and bolder, expanding on both its premise and the world that its characters must now explore.
The new film reconnects us with former sad-sack Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) and feisty racer Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a pair of lonely, misfits who became best friends after breaking out of their respective video games in the last film. This time around the duo must navigate the vast virtual world of the Internet in pursuit of a replacement steering wheel after the one from the arcade game Sugar Rush is accidentally broken, thus rendering Vanellope jobless.
Directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore craft an enjoyable and worthy sequel that addresses themes of love, friendship, and letting go. It’s also an especially smart film that looks at the Internet – frustrations and all – through the innocent eyes of our protagonists, and mines humor from concepts, characters and ideas that we’ve come to take for granted. The Internet is a vast and shiny new world for this pair, and every possible trope, including memes that go viral, GIFs, algorithms, and the currency of ‘likes’, is sportingly sent up for laughs.
The film’s best sequence is one in which Vanellope slips into a green room filled with all the Disney princesses that have ever appeared on screen. Without giving away too much, I’ll say it’s a clever, hilarious bit that flies because Disney sportingly takes the mickey out of itself, pun unintended.
Apart from its rich and slick visual style, the film is also surprisingly moving in the manner that it depicts friendship, insecurity, and the reality of changing relationships. Good luck trying to hold back your tears in the film’s final portions; I was thankful for the bulky 3D glasses that hid my weepy eyes.
I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Ralph Breaks The Internet. A tad overlong, but it’s funny and fresh and brimming with smart ideas and winning characters. Don’t miss it.