written by David Steffen
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a 2018 computer-animated children’s movie by Walt Disney Pictures, a sequel to the popular 2012 film Wreck-It Ralph. Six years have passed since the events of the first movie, and Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly), the villain of the Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) game, is still best friends with Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), one of the player characters in Sugar Rush racing game. They work in different games in an arcade, and they meet to hang out every night when the arcade closes.
Vanellope has grown bored with her game; she knows all three tracks in her game by heart. Ralph tries to help her by making his own new track, but it all goes wrong and the steering wheel of the Sugar Rush game is broken by accident by a frustrated player. Ralph and Vanellope overhear the arcade owner Mr. Litwick (Ed O’Neill) talking with some teenagers who find a replacement wheel online for $200, but that’s more than the game makes in a year, so Mr. Litwick unplugs the game, and Vanillope and all of the others flee into the power strip, orphaned.
Meanwhile, Mr. Litwick has also added a Wi-Fi router, and Ralph and Vanellope set out into the wild unknown of the Internet to go find the wheel themselves, so they can buy it and save Vanellope’s game. With no idea how the Internet works, or anything about humanity besides what they can observe within the arcade.
Overall, this movie was fun, full of little Internet jokes, but it is nowhere near as good as the original Wreck-It-Ralph. Many of the jokes are tired, and unsubstantive, easy often-repeated jokes about spam and pop-ups, which aren’t particularly up-to-date. Almost all of the obstacles in the movie are self-made, and could’ve been avoided by just making better choices. That’s not to say that there aren’t some truly shining moments: the Disney Princesses are a particular highlight, voiced by their original Disney movie actresses!, and Shank (Gal Godot) the best racer in the Slaughter House racing game.
I usually don’t have a spoiler section in reviews, but there was a part of this movie that I wanted to talk about that is too far into the plot to be part of a spoiler-free review.
As Ralph and Vanellope find ways to make money to buy the steering wheel, Vanellope falls in love with the Slaughter Race game, and Ralph overhears her saying that it feels like home. Ralph is so jealous about this that he goes to dark web and buys a computer virus to let loose into the Slaughter Race game with the intent that it will slow down enough that she won’t want to stay there anymore. Predictably, this goes horribly wrong and becomes the major source of conflict for the movie. They end up working it all out and they stay friends at the end.
And I know this is a children’s movie, and forgiveness is often a big theme of children’s movies. But I think we also have to consider how kids can absorb the themes in such movies, and I think that there are some things that you can’t expect someone else to just get over. Ralph sets loose a harmful contagion because he’s jealous that his friend might take a job far away from him. The contagion gets loose and wreaks havoc. Sure, he asked questions about whether it’s really harmful or not, but he was asking them of someone selling viruses on the dark web.