Very rarely are sequels better than the original. Ralph Breaks the Internet is that rare sequel.
Directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, fresh off of the critical and commercial success of 2016’s Zootopia, bring us the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-it Ralph. The sequel catches up with Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) roughly six years after the close of the original film. Reluctantly fulfilling the archetypical Disney “Princess” role, Vanellope finds herself growing bored of the peaceful monotony of the everyday arcade life, which is full of throwbacks to the classic arcade days. In typical Disney/Joseph Campbell fashion, Ralph and Vanellope are thrust into the unknown on a quest to recover a part that can save Vanellope’s arcade machine from being unplugged.
It’s here that the film really spreads its wings, plunging our main characters into the infinite depths of the Internet to recover said part. It’s here we’re also introduced to tons of shady, yet endearing, characters including a YouTube algorithm (Taraji P. Henson), a gang of car racers led by the slick Shank (Gal Gadot) and a charming Pop-up ad (Bill Hader).
The film tackles themes of insecurity, toxic friendships, and co-dependence that serves as a cautionary tale for kids, but might resonate more with parents. Although the focus on these themes aren’t too subtlety layered into the narrative. In fact the entire third act takes a derailment to focus on these themes.
Ralph is stuffed to the gills with internet and pop-culture references which soars when it works, but other times can bog the film down. For example, the group of Disney Princesses highlight the duality of the films over reliance on pop-references. It works when you don’t think about it, but if you decide to give it a thought you’ll realize that there’s no real reason for their presence. But the film is definitely better with them than without.
The entire film is super Meta. It knows what it’s doing and it knows what it wants to be. From beginning to end Ralph Breaks is a hilarious flick that maintains itself for the bulk of its runtime. Despite its few drawbacks there should be something here for everyone to enjoy. 4/5 Bibles.