Ralph Breaks the Internet Review: A truly disappointing and blatant cash grab that shows that fans deserve better.
Taking the lovable Wreck it Ralph from the simple arcade cabinet of Litwick’s Arcade and moving him to the every expanding Internet, Ralph Breaks the Internet is an incredibly flawed outing that not only loses out on an interesting concept, but even takes a little bit away from the original.
The film follows Ralph (John C. Reilly) as he must help Venellope (Sarah Silverman) get a replacement part for her game after it breaks. With very little time before her arcade cabinet is gone forever, the two must embark on a journey through the Internet to find a way to buy a new part. On their journey, the two understand what it means to be a great friend, learn how to make money on the Internet, and get to see a bunch of logos and characters that Disney paid a lot of money for to distract them from actually having a good story.
Now, before I legitimately rip Ralph Breaks the Internet to shreds, as it so rightfully deserves to be, I would like to say what was actually pretty great about the film. Reilly and Silverman are truly excellent, once again, as Reilly makes Ralph an absolute treat, even through the film’s dumbest moments, and Silverman brings Venellope’s sassy and confident attitude to the forefront of this film.
There really is something great about Ralph’s more ignorant and good-hearted personality that makes him one of Disney’s best characters. Venellope is also given more opportunity to grow this time around with her desire to do something different and how it strains her friendship with Ralph really impacts the film’s message on supporting your friends through the thick and thin.
The film also touches on some interesting topics surrounding the Internet and online behavior. From moments that touch on mean commenters, making money online, and the relative dangers of pop-up ads, Ralph Breaks the Internet has some pretty decent commentary on the Internet as a whole. Not to mention, the moment where Venellope goes to the Disney themed fan site is pretty incredible and there’s plenty of cameos, Easter eggs, and clear special attention to detail that makes it the best part of the movie.
So, now with the good of Ralph Breaks the Internet out of the way, it’s time to cover all of the bad and the ugly of the film. From thinking back to the first film, I remember feeling as if I was watching something about Arcades and gaming that was well-understood beyond just a surface level. Now, after seeing Ralph Breaks the Internet, I not only don’t feel that way about this film, but also about the original as the appearance of an iconic gaming character, Sonic the Hedgehog, has me raising my eyebrow. The reason being, Sonic isn’t an arcade cabinet character and, when thinking back to the original, seeing some of my other favorite gaming characters in Ralph’s world didn’t really make sense.
Sure, this may come off like a small nitpick, but it set off a bunch of other questions and issues I had as I watched the rest of the film. When Ralph leaves his game during the game during the day, why is it not a big deal like in the first one? Why does everyone seem like they don’t know who Ralph is on the Internet if he is a big gaming icon? How did Ralph make over 30 thousand dollars on the Internet in literally under a day? Now, I can hearing the ringing argument of many people saying that this is just a “kid’s movie,” but these are actually logical issues that kids would have with this kind of movie.
Kids are all over the Internet and actually have a solid grip on how things would work and these kinds of things would bother them. Even more meaningful sections of the film like Ralph discovering the issues of commenting and the dark web can come off as inaccurate because it’s told in a PG way. While it’s definitely not okay to call people “ugly” or “stupid” on the Internet or give other people viruses, many viewers who have been on the Internet will see these moments as a sugar-coated way of explaining the issues of the Internet.
Ralph Breaks the Internet honestly treats its audience like it is kind of dumb or ignorant about the Internet and thinks it can just make audiences happy with just flashing logos or characters that people are aware of. While it’s cool to see the YouTube or Facebook logos flash on-screen, they are kind of just there with very little purpose and the film even has it’s protagonists go to BuzzTube, a clear rip-off of both BuzzFeed and YouTube, that feels unnecessary and only there to stay on brand.
Disney even ruins some of their own characters with terrible Meta humor and messaging that feels incredibly fake. This is highly apparent in Venellope meeting other Disney princesses as the film tries to implement message about the changing views of princesses. The film says how dumb it is that men have to come to the rescue of women and for them just to be there to sing songs and be “magical.” While that’s confusing in itself, considering that Elsa, Anna, and Moana are supposed to be films that break this mold and the characters don’t disagree with this notion, Venellope literally falls right into the category for no reason as she too sings a song, that’s not even good, and needs Ralph to basically save the day.
Not to mention, having Merida speak broken English and being the outlier of the group, just because she’s from Pixar (they literally say that this is the reason), is completely disrespectful to that character and comes off as Disney being jealous that Pixar actually understands how to make a great movie.
The film’s messaging is also where Ralph Breaks the Internet is at its worst as it pretends to build up emotion for Ralph and Venellope’s friendship and drags on the plot for no reason. As the film reaches its ending, people weeping and crying could be heard throughout the theater and I found myself to be confused as to why.
While I enjoyed the seeing Ralph and Venellope’s friendship develop over two films, this kind of message never really brought me to a strong emotional level. Frankly, I barely even cared about the film’s message as it drags on the plot so much just to add a villainous character and an end fight sequence that felt completely unnecessary. It also leaves both Felix and Calhoun on the sideline this time to probably just be a part of a short so that they can make more money.
I think the best way to describe Ralph Breaks the Internet is that it is Disney’s most blatant and disappointing cash grab to date. It frankly seems like it only understands the Internet on a surface level and has its messages get lost amongst a bunch a paid logos, dislikable Meta humor, and a plot that is incredibly thin. For a generation that basically lives on the Internet, they surely deserve something better that doesn’t insult their intelligence.