“Ralph Breaks the Internet is a two-hour journey down a series of rabbit holes filled with laughs, tears, a ton of self-referential meta gags, and a Tumblr-worthy reinvention of familiar characters that eventually delivers something you didn’t know you always needed.”
Critics, like Mashable’s Angie Han, have reached a consensus: the Wreck-It Ralph sequel does in fact “break the internet.” Fortunately, they mostly mean that as a compliment.
A follow-up to the 2012 smash hit, Ralph Breaks the Internet takes beloved gaming characters Wreck-It Ralph, played by John C. Reilly, and Vanellope von Schweetz, played by Sarah Silverman, away from their safe offline consoles and onto the world wide web.
There they make some old-to-us, but new-to-them friends in Disney’s classic princesses, bring back that one Daft Punk song, and make a whole lot of social media jokes.
In theaters November 21, Ralph Breaks the Internet isn’t perfect, but those who have seen it agree this cyber adventure is more than worth the price of logging on.
Check out critics’ takes on Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 below.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a totally worthy sequel
After going from 8-bit zero to arcade hero during his original outing, Wreck-It Ralph levels up in a big way with “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” an ambitious, all-around satisfying sequel to Walt Disney Animation’s wonderfully outside-the-box smash that ranks among the studio’s very best toons: It’s a poignant buddy movie that’s sincere in all the right places, but knows better than to take itself too seriously. While the 2012 project was an inspired example of easily expandable world-building, this cleverer than expected follow-up skips the obvious next step — simply exploring the other games that share the same power strip — and sets out to conquer the relative vastness of cyberspace instead.
As such, it feels like a miracle that Ralph Breaks the Internet — while not quite as pure as its predecessor — is also tremendously charming. Lightning has struck twice. The film is unquestionably a corporate product; there’s a lot of very blatant Disney peacocking going on. But it seems that Wreck-It Ralph’s singular core is strong enough to keep its sequel from taking on the patina of a cynical, algorithm-generated product — in fact, it’s the polar opposite. Confession: I began involuntarily tearing up about halfway through the film, and kept crying on and off until the movie came to an end.
Ralph doesn’t totally nail the viral setting
The biggest problem with the film is the pacing and perhaps relying a little too heavily on the Internet gags. Ralph Breaks the Internet is a balancing act where it wants to give people a good time by poking fun at the Internet and Internet culture, but also tell a story about what it means to be a good friend. Both sides of the film are strong, but it’s telling that the best part of the movie is the third act when they go all in on the friendship story and leave the Internet jokes behind. Unlike Wreck-It Ralph where I could have done with more video game gags, the sequel had me eager for more of the friendship storyline.
There’s the main focus, several things happening right to the side, and then dozens of things in the background. This can run the gamut from cameos and references to themed music, various types of memes, trips to the good parts of the internet like fan sites, the bad parts like comments sections, and so much more. Much like the internet itself, you can easily get lost in every manic, magnificent place.
And yet, as those scenes keep on coming something feels a little off. Ralph Breaks the Internet is so full of big ideas that at times you get the sense it’s more of a wild collage instead of a perfect puzzle. From scene to scene, things are regularly linked in ways that feel forced or without proper motivation, and the result is a narrative that, at times, feels very disjointed and uneven.
The Disney princesses are as awesome as they look in the trailer
However, as Ralph Breaks the Internet sees Ralph and Vanellope explore these realms, the movie also gambles with viewers becoming more invested in those parts of the Internet than in the film’s main characters. The Disney princesses sequence, for example, is excellently executed and quite honestly overshadows everything else going on in the movie (especially for those who grew up watching the Disney princess movies).
It’s also got one heck of a sense of humor. In a nifty bit of cross-promotion, Vanellope is sent to a super-charged Disney fansite where she runs into other Disney princesses who are just as bored as she is. As they teach her the ways of being a princess (the weird clothes, the animal companions, the singing), the young racer zooms towards her own inevitable maturation. It’s a big, funny step for Vanellope, but more than that, it’s one for the brand.
Ralph Breaks the Internet surprisingly takes on toxic masculinity
There are some resonant ideas at play here, among them the realization that toxic male insecurity, even under the guise of love and friendship, can make the internet a uniquely volatile and dangerous place. For the most part, those ideas are realized with sly visual wit and conceptual ingenuity — the most delightful new character is a squat, bespectacled search engine named KnowsMore (perfectly voiced by Alan Tudyk) — and interlaced with the cheeky, sophisticated humor that has become synonymous with the Disney/Pixar brand.
Wreck-It Ralph — the character, not the movie — is a kind of loose metaphor for a cocktail of personality disorders; he works as a character because it’s so easy to see shades of ourselves and our friends in him. He’s a fundamentally gentle soul, but his sense of self is critically unstable without external validation. Those giant hands tip us off to a kind of inborn destructive grabbiness, the self-annihilating need for the love of others.
This is a great all-ages option for Thanksgiving viewing
A turbo-charged satire that swaps out Gen X video arcade nostalgia for our current, all-consuming social-media-fueled obsession, the endlessly inventive Walt Disney Studios Animation follow-up impressively levels up with laugh-out-loud consistency.
The sharply observed results — combined with a gamely attuned voice ensemble that finds the returning John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman (in an upgraded role) joined by newcomers Gal Gadot and Taraji P. Henson — should handily generate an all-ages load of likes when it connects with theaters a day before Thanksgiving.