REVIEW: Ralph Breaks The Internet is a Surprisingly Fun Ride
Of both Disney Animation Studios and Pixar pictures of recent years, Wreck-it-Ralph ranks amongst my favorites. Disney has released a lot of middling pictures like Moana and Finding Dory in past years that did not seem like they had much to say. Films like Zootopia and Wreck-it-Ralph have had unique and interesting takes with good messages and likable characters. When I first heard the title Ralph Breaks the Internet I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Judging strictly by the title it seemed Disney was trying to cash-in on a seriously less inspired direction than the original. Followed up by some pretty uneven trailers, I was concerned about this one falling more in line with Finding Dory than the original.
We pick up with one of our main characters Ralph in pretty much the opposite of where we found him in the beginning of the original. Ralph is loving life, and the movie really hammers home that Ralph would not change a thing about his life. When he starts to notice his best friend, Vanellope, does not share this same love for her current life, Ralph tries to add some excitement to her life. This of course leads to some unintended consequences that put Sugar Rush in danger of getting unplugged permanently. Ralph then comes up with an idea to go and venture into the internet to find a solution to their newfound problem.
There are some really cool ideas at play here, but some of it comes across as half-baked. Starting with the positives, I really enjoyed how they created the visualization of the internet. There is a lot of cool touches and visual storytelling told about this world. At one point, one of our characters finds themselves on the “ground floor” of sorts of the internet. The movie does not spend much time there, but you can see different things like “Public Chat Rooms” and “Dial-up Internet” and other now extinct aspects of the internet littered around these slums. There are things like this littered all across this world. Some moviegoers may still have a bad taste in their mouth leftover from another movie that took a similar approach, but this one definitely does not come off as distracting. Outside of one website, most of the brands and websites act as backdrops and less as instruments to push the plot forward.
The “Oh my Disney” section is a lot of fun, and they don’t spend too much time there. We get to see a couple fun easter eggs, references, and of course the princess scene. You see the majority of the princess scene in the trailers, but it is still a lot of fun to experience in the theater. For the cynical crowd I understand how it can come across as Disney flaunting the influence and power they have over pop-culture, but its short enough and acts as more of a fun detour for our character than an extended commercial for other Disney properties.
Next, the voice acting was pretty good across the board. Notably our two leads Ralph and Vanellope (played by John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman respectively). There is some heavy lifting the actors are asked to do and they do a pretty good job of selling it (more on that once I get to the complaints). It also features the talents of actors like Bill Hader, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, and all the original voice actors for the princesses who have some fun roles to play. The only part that I found a little lacking was Gal Gadot’s role. I could not find any previous voice acting experience for her, and it shows a little bit here. Her character delivers a couple lines that come across a little flat and unemotional. Nothing too distracting, but she is definitely the weak-link in this cast.
On the negative side, this movie definitely has a good message, however I found the delivery did not land as well as it could. This movie fails at the old lesson “Show, don’t tell”. There’s probably one too many long drawn monologues about friendship and doing the right thing in this movie. The conflicts all seem to be born out of and solved from a character going on one of these speeches. Going off of the conflict though, I really like the idea that there really is no antagonist in this movie. The conflict is literally born out of the insecurities and shortcomings of our characters, which is not something you typically see in an all-ages animated film like this.
There is one section of the movie that feels a little out of place. At one point Ralph is attempting to become a viral sensation on the internet, and this part feels a little messy. They toy with ideas like toxicity on the internet but they essentially introduce this idea and then move on past it within the same scene. This is definitely the weakest part of the movie. It feels a little out of place, and some characters make some decisions that seem like there will be ramifications for, but then nothing comes of it. One of the post-credit scenes pokes fun at a certain scene not being in the film, so I can’t help but wonder if maybe the second act of this movie was changed.
Overall, the flaws of this movie definitely don’t keep this one from being a lot of fun. I think the biggest drawback of this movie is that it never quite reaches the highs of some of Disney’s best, but definitely never reaches the lows of some of Disney’s worst. This one is definitely worth seeing in theaters, especially for the whole family.