RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET may be a bright, bold and glossy sequel on the surface, but fundamentally it is a tale as old as time – a story of friendship. After a rocky beginning in the first film WRECK-IT RALPH, Ralph and Vanellope developed a heartwarming older brother/younger sister relationship. It is this friendship that is threatened in the sequel. For this reason, I highly recommend everyone watch WRECK-IT RALPH as a refresher, as it really establishes all the relationships you see flourish or fail in RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET.
Wreck-it Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) must save her game, Sugar Rush, from being *gasp* unplugged! They leave the comforts of Litwak’s arcade to explore the vast, uncharted world of the internet for a solution. Lending a virtual hand are Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces—so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he’s ever had.
Heartwarming and utterly relatable, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET takes on friendship as the protagonist and antagonist. We all have friends throughout life. There’s your grade school friends, your band friends, your high school friends, your work friends and, most importantly, your best friends. What would you do and how would you feel if your relationship with your best friend was threatened? How would you handle it if your best friend grew and changed without you? This is what Ralph must face as his best friend Vanellope discovers her new dream, and wants to go on a journey of her own.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET takes on the challenge of recreating the internet in a physical, tangible form our characters can walk through and interact with. How do you design the look of a computer virus? How do you “squash bugs” in your website “home”? How do you interpret a Google search bar as a character? What does the internet even look like on a physical level?? Phil Johnston (Director) explained that The Internet is “like an old city like Rome or Istanbul where the ancient city is buried deep beneath. Like a city that is multi-layered with the newest, biggest Websites up on top. Then the old forgotten stuff is down at the bottom.”
Are you familiar with pop-up ads – when you really want to read an article but a video pops up or an ad pops up as you’re trying to read? Well, when Ralph and Vanellope first explore the internet, little Avatars get right up in their faces, yelling at them and thrusting giant signs close to their faces. These are the “pop-up ads”! At one point, a bigger avatar who looks like a bouncer scares off a “pop-up ad” avatar by yelling at them to go away. This is a “pop-up blocker!” Throughout the film this ingenuity really shines. There are several more examples of physically interpreting the internet, but I’ll let you discover them for yourself. Especially bugs and viruses. The jokes and memes start flying fast, and it’s hilariously laugh-out-loud funny if you’re intimately familiar with being online. That being said, someone may get lost very quickly if they don’t understand or deal with the internet on a daily basis.
That also brings me to another point – because RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET is largely based on the internet as it is right now, will this movie hold up in 10 years? Or even 5 years? Will viral videos still be a thing? Will we still Like and “heart” videos and posts? Will we have hashtags? I’m reminded of the 1940 Jimmy Stewart rom-com THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. Two employees can’t stand each other, but are actually falling in love as anonymous pen-pals through letters exchanged in a mailroom. In 1998 the movie was updated and remade into YOU’VE GOT MAIL with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan falling in love over AOL email and chatrooms! Now we need a NEW version of that film where the two characters meet via Instagram DM!
Certainly RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET will be a timestamp of 2018 and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I still enjoy THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER and YOU’VE GOT MAIL holds up, because the story is what drives both films. Similarly, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET follows the relationships of characters, and that’s what we relate with as viewers.
WRECK-IT RALPH came out in 2012 – before Disney acquired Star Wars – so now RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET has an even bigger sandbox to play in, and they make use of their IP’s! The second Ralph and Vanellope enter Oh My Disney!, you hear The Imperial March and see Disney, Marvel and Star Wars “islands” in quick succession. Stormtroopers are the “security” of Oh My Disney! And Vanellope trips over R2-D2 as she tries to dodge them.
And then, there are the Disney Princesses. To see down-to-earth, chill Vanellope, a Disney princess in her own right, interact with these prim and proper princesses is utterly hilarious. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing! C-3PO is the Princess Liaison, which makes a whole lot of sense as he is Princess Leia’s companion in the Star Wars trilogy. Vanellope encourages the princesses to chill out in comfortable clothing, and convention cosplay will never be the same. I WANT Rapunzel’s magic flower leggings so bad!
Vanellope and ALL the princesses (voiced in most cases by their original voices) bond over fundamental princess things like “no moms” and people assuming “all their problems got solved because a big strong man showed up”. This scene alone is worth the price of admission. And BONUS, there’s one more princess scene in the film that you haven’t seen in a trailer, and it’s glorious.
Overall, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET is heartwarming, relatable and hilarious. If you’ve seen WRECK-IT RALPH recently, you will enjoy the film even more. The sequel hits U.S. theaters this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, 11/21/18. Take the family and enjoy a great story, great animation and loveable characters.
Want to read more behind-the-scenes stories from RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET? Here are the links to explore: