FILM REVIEW – WRECK-IT RALPH 2: RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET. With the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Alfred Molina. Written by Phil Johnston & Pamela Ribon. Directed by Phil Johnston, Rich Moore. Rated PG for some action and rude humor. 112 minutes.
“Wreck-It Ralph” was a surprise hit when it came out in 2012, doing a mash-up of actual and imaginary video game characters in one movie, just as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” did it thirty years ago with its ‘toons. As a follow-up, Ralph is now ready to take on the online world in RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET. Animation fans of all ages won’t want to miss it.
The premise is that life has gone on for the characters, with Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) having built a strong friendship with Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), the star of a neighboring racing game called “Sugar Rush.” When her game breaks down it looks like it is beyond repair, with the missing part – a steering wheel – only available through e-Bay at a price the arcade’s owner can’t afford. Ralph and Vanellope decide to access the newly installed WiFi to get that wheel.
The internet proves to be even more overwhelming than the world of arcade games. From auction sites to search engines and on-line multiplayer games, Ralph and Vanellope do it all. The film’s targets including not only numerous websites, but internet scams, the importance of ignoring toxic user comments, and the generating of memes for fun and profit. Vanellope meets Shank (Gal Gadot), the star of a violent racing game which enchants someone whose racetrack consisted of sweets. Ralph becomes an internet star when he meets Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), the ultra-cool proprietor of BuzzzTube, the home of the latest viral videos.
Undoubtedly the highlight is when Vanellope ends up at a Disney website where she meets Ariel, Pocahontas, Mulan, Belle, Elsa, and other Disney princesses, who have a more blasé take on the world than in their own movies. In a brilliant bit of casting, most of them are voiced by the original actresses, including Kelly Macdonald who has an unintelligible Scottish burr as Merida from “Brave.” When Vanelllope is confused it’s explained that she’s from the “other studio” (i.e., Pixar). There are also voice cameos for characters from “Star Wars,” “Toy Story,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Beyond the power of friendship – and the need to be supportive and not controlling – the lesson for younger viewers is that there is a lot of fun to be had on the internet, but there are also things that can be scary or dangerous. The movie isn’t intended primarily as a morality play or parenting guideline, though. It’s in the grand tradition of the classic Hollywood cartoons in that it provides entertainment for all ages, even if you end up laughing at different things. As it turns out, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” has laughs to spare.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His new novel, Father of the Bride of Frankenstein, will be released in January. He is the 2018 recipient of the Skylark Award given by the New England Science Fiction Association. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.