There is something so pathetically contemporary about Ralph Breaks the Internet. It’s so quintessentially 2018 and not in a good way. It has memes, a YouTube/Buzzfeed expy, Disney princesses trying to be meta and woke, and managed to spawn an article on how the real villain is toxic masculinity, which might have been interesting if….IF, the behavior was only toxic coming from guys and if Vanellope wasn’t acting in direct contradiction to the message of the first movie.
If this movie wasn’t a Disney property, I’d write it off as bland, uninspired, mediocre and wholly forgettable. But because it is a Disney movie, pretty much blatantly so, it is…pretty bad because it falls so far below their normal standards. Seriously. There are so many pop culture references, half of which already feel outdated. Really Disney? Unboxing? Fortnight? Flossing?
Nobody is going to know to what these are in three years. These attempts to be cool and “with it” or whatever are what I would expect out of Illumination or some DreamWorks. It literally felt like a way Disney to be like: “Hey! We’re hip! We know what meh-mehs and the Internet are.”
Sure, there are a lot of bright colors, some funny jokes, some genuinely good character interactions and a pretty amazing car chase, I gotta admit but that doesn’t make up for the film’s poor pacing, hypocrisy and the movie’s pretty uncreative take on the Internet: I mean I liked the little avatars wandering around, but the set-up has been done before. The whole thing is a city with lots of people zipping about. Twitter is birds. There’s pop-ups everywhere. The Dark Net is what an eight-year old’s idea of a Black Market looks like. And the characters are in amazement.
The Internet is literally the foundation for modern society… Why introduce through people unfamiliar with it? And why now?
Fairly OddParents had an episode about this in 2001, when the idea of the Internet was still pretty new. (The episode definitely had its issues but still.) It feels a little late to the game.
Then there is the plot of the movie… It’s not really a plot, so much as a run through different tired Internet set-pieces as Ralph and Vanellope try to earn money by making viral videos, so they can buy a replacement steering wheel for Vanellope’s game that they accidentally bid was too much for on eBay.
After meeting the Disney princesses, Vanellope figures out what she truly wants to be is a racer in a game called “Slaughter Race” because she’s tired of Sugar Rush. But she doesn’t know how to tell Ralph. Which is fine… but this conflict between Ralph and Vanellope doesn’t really kick into gear until maybe the last third of the movie.
They get to Slaughter Race pretty early on in the film, but Ralph’s fears in my mind, make sense. Slaughter Race is a dangerous game. And if Vanellope dies in the game… She actually dies. No offense, but while I understand Ralph’s attachment issues went too far, he’s pretty justified in not wanting her in the game.
Ralph wants things to remain the same as they have the past six years, while Vanellope wants something different. And I get that. Routines get boring, but Ralph was a villain and miserable for fifty years and then eventually found fulfillment in his role as “the bad guy” and Vanellope embraced her glitch.
But, this movie forgets about all of that. Ralph is depicted as jealous and overbearing to Vanellope (which he is somewhat) and Vanellope is just a free-spirit who needs room to grow… At the end of the movie, she straight up abandons her game for Slaughter Race, and we’re supposed to be okay with this, since the main character of the game changed the code so Vanellope won’t die.
In some ways it makes sense, nobody noticed Vanellope was missing for fifteen years until she came back and the game didn’t get unplugged after King Candy disappeared so it stands to reason she won’t be missed. Except, she’s still a popular character, she never told anyone in her game she was living, and she faces no repercussions for being the one responsible for breaking the game.
Apparently, she’s fully in the right and Ralph’s insecurity is a byproduct of toxic masculinity… Credit where credit is due, the movie’s climax where millions of Ralph copies form a giant Ralph, where you can see each individual copy moving and wriggling while trying to capture Vanellope is creepy beyond on all description. There’s a lot of detail there. It’s impressive.
But…the movie places the blame squarely on Ralph. Except, we know his story. We know why he acts this way. Vanellope is right in that he has issues, but in the end she is the one selfishly going Turbo. And what would she have done if they couldn’t change the code?
And why can’t she just go back and forth between games? You know, do Sugar Rush during the day and go to Slaughter Race at night. It’s an online game, people are always playing. (Okay, issues with the code… But you get my point.)
You may notice that I haven’t mentioned the Disney princesses. That’s because they’re pointless. They don’t add anything to the plot beyond some princess jokes, and inspiring Vanellope to go after her dream (and saving Ralph…but since it isn’t a game, I don’t think he could have died.) I was more annoyed by their presence by anything.
The movie literally had to go out of its way to enter Oh My Disney! Literally, the pacing and characters would have been improved if they cut out those scenes and replaced them with scenes between Ralph and Vanellope or Vanellope and Shank.
It just felt like an opportunity to make meta-jokes about princesses and act like it was revolutionary. Here’s the thing: Shrek did it first and better as did Enchanted. You don’t need to point out that you’re not doing the same old thing in every movie…. We get it.
It’s ultimately a very forgettable film and a huge downgrade from the previous movie. At least there was no twist villain.
If you want to see it, I recommend waiting until it’s out on streaming services.
Otherwise, save your money and wait until Into the SpiderVerse is out. (Along with its already slated sequels…)
And that’s the scoop.
If you liked this review read: Duck out of seeing “Duck, Duck Goose”
Year of release: 2018
Available: In a theater near you
Producer: Clark Spencer
Directors: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Screenplay by: Phil Johnston Pamela Ribon
Story by: Rich Moore Phil Johnston Jim Reardon Pamela Ribon Josie Trinidad