April 6-7, 2024
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a film that not only smashes what its title says, but viewer expectations too, with a two-hour offering that gently nods to its origins while carving its own path.
The thing is, the running time alone is enough to lose the attention of the younger audience, and it’s clear throughout that the filmmakers are largely preaching to a generation that grew up through the rise and fall of dial-up internet, something entirely lost on the current generation of kids. If you need any more convincing this film is skewed less towards children than the first, a cameo from Breaking Bad’s Walter White might do the job.
The film picks up where viewers were left in 2012, with Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) living the easy life at Litwak’s Arcade. Things are perfect, and that’s where the problems begin.
Vanellope’s Sugar Rush is quickly fading, as she tires of the same old tracks within her game. To mix things up, Ralph decides to alter one of the tracks, which begins a chain reaction that sees a player snap off the arcade machine’s steering wheel and the owner decommission it.
Conveniently, while all this is happening, the arcade owner has set up a router in the arcade, and so Ralph and Vanellope embark on a grand journey to eBay to track down a new steering wheel for the arcade before the machine is sent away forever.
Say what you will about Disney’s rapidly growing intellectual property, but the studio’s bank of iconic titles allows for a wealth of endearing references, from Star Wars to Avengers, the Disney Princess army (equipped with a new take on the tired old damsel in distress cliché), and a brief yet heart-warming nod to Stan Lee.
It’s these various character introductions, coupled with a star-studded cast of pop culture royalty – Gal Gadot, Alan Tudyk, John DiMaggio, Kristen Bell, and so many more – that keeps things interesting. Australia’s own Hamish Blake even pops up, as a flamethrower-wielding character named Pyro.
The storyline itself feels familiar, but not cliché or overdone, and while it does hit a minor lull about three-quarters of the way through, overall, it’s a charming and enjoyable ride that provides social commentary on the superficial nature of internet fame and challenges certain stereotypes, all the while stressing the importance of friendship.
It’s a film that gives its viewer as much as they put in; you can zone out and enjoy the ride, or engage with its countless references and Easter eggs for a more rewarding experience. It also lends itself to multiple viewings, as its charm far exceeds the storyline and animation style.
The harshest thing we can say about it is, much like the internet fame it’s dissecting throughout, Ralph Breaks the Internet will likely be somewhat irrelevant within a few years, given the thousands of references to current Silicon Valley hot properties throughout.
Ralph Breaks the Internet opens in cinemas December 26