‘I’ ON CULTURE
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a wonderfully inventive comedy cartoon. Made by the creators of Zootopia, a masterpiece, this one does not measure up to that, but provides delicious looks at the Internet, family, stereotypes and so much more. Some people might think that Creed 2 would be a better choice for me, but after the recent elections, watching two guys beating on each other seems a bit redundant.
Six years ago, in Wreck-It Ralph, we saw Ralph, a bad guy, learn that he could be a lot more and have more friends by being good. It is now six years later, and Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and his best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) hang out at Litwak’s video arcade. While it’s open, they do their jobs in their respective games, and then they hang out together and drink root beer at Tapper’s. Vanellope is antsy; she’s bored by her Sugar Rush driving game, which she always wins. Ralph likes boring. But then the steering wheel on Vanellope’s game is broken, and the machine might be junked.
So, Ralph and Vanellope get on the Internet and head over to eBay, and a whole new adventure begins. The makers of the film had a great time creating their own version of the auction site. Watching the bidding on a potato chip that has the same contours as Beyonce’s face is just the start. The two leads start bidding, thinking it would be fun to get higher numbers, not realizing they would now owe $27,001. To earn money, Vanellope gets into Slaughter Run, a tough driving game, led by tough gal Shank (Gal Gadot). Vanellope discovers that her driving skills have been wasted in Sugar Rush.
Then she meets the Disney princesses. This section of the movie is an instant classic. All the princesses are there (and, wherever possible, voiced by the women who did the voice in the original film). Vanellope, once she admits she has no mother (like just about all of the princesses) and “is expected to stand around while some big guy settles all the action,” is declared a princess. Some people seeing a bit of this in a trailer were convinced the movie was going to be misogynistic. But it is all handled with loving care. If you read fast, check out the slogans on the princesses’ leisure wear (For example, “Nap Queen” for Sleeping Beauty.)
At any rate, Ralph messes up, as usual, and creates a virus that starts taking down the internet. And, well, you’ll have to see the rest.
The best part of the movie is its message that everyone should be able to be themselves and that friends can change yet still remain friends. It also dwells on the fact that social media is also a form of social disease. Ralph makes videos, ones that make him look ridiculous, as a way of raising the money needed to buy the steering wheel. He thinks he is popular, but then discovers all the nasty comments about him. The lead algorithm Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) gives him the important message: “never read the comments.”
The film is filled with clever bits and images, little Easter eggs and references to other movies. It creates a lot of fun, which is needed in an animated film that runs close to two hours.
The voice talent is great. Reilly did a good job as Ralph, but it is the women who really shine. Henson was great as the algorithm, but Gadot was even better as Shank. Who knew that Wonder Woman could sing? The Disney princesses were great, as was Alan Tudyk as a search function. But the film belongs to Silverman. Her Vanellope, who also sings nicely, is the pivotal character with her search for her own identity, which means changing her life and accepting real challenges.
There are a lot of laughs in the movie for kids, and parents will understand and appreciate things that the young ones are not ready to appreciate. And there are sentimental moments that fit in wonderfully well. This is a great movie to take the kids and grandkids to see, and you will enjoy it as well.