“Wreck-It Ralph” felt like a real breath of fresh air. Using ’80s arcade game characters, co-writer and director Rich Moore explored the nuances of heroism and villainy through the surprisingly self-aware video game bad guy Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), exposing the limitations of the good/evil binary. It was self-reflective, and not afraid to pillory genre formulas, which Disney has been known to employ a time or two. Moore is back to helm the sequel, “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” along with co-director Phil Johnston, who co-wrote the original film. Once again, the team brings a razor-sharp scalpel to dissect the zeitgeist.
Although Ralph is perfectly happy with his life hanging with his best pal in the arcade, racer Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) is bored, and nothing fixes boredom like a high-speed Wi-Fi connection. After running roughshod over Sugar Rush, Ralph and Vanellope hit the web to snag a new steering wheel for the console from an eBay auction. Along the way, they discover the risks of online shopping, viral fame, pop-up ads, the dark web and a truly addictive adult racing game in the style of “Grand Theft Auto” called “Slaughter Race.” Headed up by the very cool Shank (Gal Gadot), it’s love at first engine rev for Van, and a cause for concern for Ralph, who doesn’t want to lose his best pal.
So while Vanellope follows her heart to the thrills of “Slaughter Race,” Ralph does everything he can to right things in the arcade, which means winning the eBay auction. He becomes a viral video star, doing his best video impressions – makeup tutorials, hot peppers, screaming goats, you name it. The whole film is quite a savvy analysis of how the web works, and it’s cleverly rendered visually.
There’s also a big plug for the Oh My Disney website, but the writers are sharp enough to use this as a means to a very necessary takedown of typical Disney princess lore, with all their strong man saviors, dead moms, kidnapping, singing and magic hair.
There’s no real villain in the film – Ralph’s own worst enemy is Ralph himself.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a fresh, smart, funny and most importantly, comprehensible analysis of both internet culture and the complexities of interpersonal relationships.