Geek Review: Ralph Breaks The Internet

Wreck-It Ralph is a delightful look into the lives of arcade game characters.  Ralph was a longtime villain in an 80s style game who just wanted respect.  Along the way to getting it, he made a new friend and became a hero.

Well, now there’s a sequel where Ralph and his racing game pal Vanellope von Schweetz hit the Internet.

Life is good for Ralph (Jenny fave John C. Reilly), but Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) is starting to want something new in life.  Opportunity inadvertently comes when the arcade first gets a Wifi connection but then the steering wheel on Vanellope’s game breaks, forcing a potential shut down unless a replacement part can be found.  That means Ralph and Vanellope have to hit the Internet to get the part, encountering such online denizens as a pop-up ad (an uncredited Bill Hader), a popularity algorithm (Taraji P. Henson) and a character from a popular MMORPG racing game (Gal Gadot). Of course, once outside her game, Vanellope sees a possibility for escape to the sort of life she wants while Ralph sees weird and crazy stuff his more old-fashioned video game existence can’t quite condone.

So, here’s the thing:  anyone looking for a really groundbreaking or satirical look at what the Internet is will probably be disappointed.  There’s plenty of online product placement on display, and the movie does do a decent job of animating different types of online sites and communities, but it’s still a PG-rated Disney movie.  When Ralph, as seen in the trailers, heads down to the “Dark Web” to see a virus dealer voiced by Alfred Molina, it’s more literally dark than metaphorically dark.  You’re not going to see, say, mail-order brides or something like that down there.  This is the tamest Internet experience imaginable.

On the other hand, it does hit the character beats just right in a largely character-driven story, and so long as Disney’s self-referential nods don’t seem like too much to the individual viewer–even if the Disney Princess sequence may be one of the most clever parts of the movie–then it should be a good time at the movies.  Ralph and Vanellope hit a bump in the road of their friendship, and how it manifests is visually interesting if nothing else.  8 out of 10 sewer sharks.

Oh, and stick through the credits for this one.

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