Wreck-It Ralph showed us how we don’t have to conform to the standards set by society. Bad guys can be good, and glitches can become racing champions. Yet behind all the video game references and easter eggs was a heartfelt story about a developing friendship between Ralph and Vanellope. Six years later and Ralph Breaks the Internet exchanges the video game references for internet memes, but it still sticks to its franchise’s roots with a warming story of friendship. Like it’s predecessor, Ralph Breaks the Internet wraps you in a warm blanket of nostalgia as it whisks audiences off to a wondrous world you’ll never want to leave.
Life is good in the virtual world for best friends Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), who spend their days in their respective video games, Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sugar Rush, and their nights drinking root beer and talking shop. While Ralph is content with the way things are, Vanellope is growing tired with racing the same old tracks and having the same old conversations, day in and day out. In an effort to liven things up for her, Ralph decides to create his own shortcut for one of Sugar Rush’s tracks, inadvertently resulting in the game machine’s racing wheel getting broken. With the game being deemed too costly to fix, Vanellope risks getting unplugged for good. In the hopes of finding a replacement wheel on some site called eBay, Ralph and Vanellope travel to the mysterious world of the internet.
If you thought Wreck-It Ralph was a onslaught of easter eggs and meta jokes then you’ll be surprised to learn that Ralph Breaks the Internet jams even more pop culture references into every frame. There is always something going on in the background, whether it’s the abundance of websites popping up for a quick joke or something that dives deep into internet obscurity. It can be a bit overwhelming to be honest. I found myself paying more attention to the background looking for as many little details as I could find, rather than the story that was unfolding in front of me. This was especially true when Ralph and Vanellope first enter the internet, we are introduced to everything all at once.
Ralph Breaks the Internet does do a great job at building on the relationship Ralph and Vanellope developed in the first film. Like in real life, six years have passed and the two friends find themselves doing the same things over and over again. When they get to the internet, Vanellope discovers the online game Slaughter Race, an open world racing game led by Shank (Gal Gadot). With no defined courses and constant updates, Vanellope quickly develops a love for this new game world, much to the dismay of Ralph who thinks he’ll lose her if he doesn’t do something. Ralph Breaks the Internet is all about what defines a friendship, and like its predecessor, definitions are never set in stone. The film is a good teaching tool for kids to learn that it’s okay if things change, and that it’s not necessarily bad, just different.
By far the biggest strength of Ralph Breaks the Internet, however, is in its Disney power. From Marvel to Star Wars to the Muppets, Disney is king when it comes to pop culture, and the studio waves their scepter proudley at every opportunity. The Disney princesses come out in full force, as hinted at in the hilarious trailer, and they’re not shy about cracking a few jokes at Disney’s expense either. It’s amazing to watch, not only because it’s hilarious, but also because Disney is the kinda studio who can get everyone into the audio booth for a quick cameo. That means having the likes of Kristen Bell (Anna), Paige O’Hara (Belle), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Vin Diesel (Groot), all in the same movie. It’s the Disney brand at its finest.
Ralph Breaks the Internet won’t break Hollywood as far as sequels are concerned, but it’s still a wonderful follow up to the amazing Wreck-It Ralph. Between the new characters, the charming story, and the multitude of pop culture references, it will have you laughing nonstop.