Wreck it Ralph was a unique concept, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the film itself. While it had a colorful design and a helpful message for younger audience members, it didn’t have enough originality or cleverness to keep my mind occupied for the entire running time. Not only is Ralph Breaks the Internet a better film in nearly every regard other than the title, but I actually found myself appreciating it more with additional analysis. In short, Ralph Breaks the Internet may be filled with shameless Disney self-promotion and is clearly another cash-grabbing sequel, but it also happens to be a pretty great film.
After the conclusion of the first film, everything in the arcade has gone back to normal. Glitch (voiced by Sarah Silverman) has learned to use her glitches to win races in the game Sugar Rush, while she and Ralph (John C. Reilly) spend every night game hopping once the arcade has closed for the day. Ralph is content with this routine, while Glitch longs for excitement. After Ralph attempts to make a new track in Sugar Rush to feed this desire, it accidentally results in the game’s steering wheel breaking. Without a replacement available, the arcade’s owner discovers one being sold on eBay (Disney must have had a field day selling product placement for this film, because there is a lot of it). In an effort to save her game, Glitch and Ralph enter the new Wi-Fi station in the arcade, so that they can travel to the internet and retrieve the wheel.
Bringing Ralph to the internet opens up his world, as well as the narrative. There are seemingly endless ways for the film to comment on modern internet use, providing additional layers for adults to enjoy, along with the colorful spectacle for younger audience members. After bidding on the steering wheel at eBay, Ralph and Glitch are shocked to discover that they need actual money to pay for it. In danger of losing the item that they bid on, Ralph and Glitch are forced to seek out ways to make money quickly on the internet. At first they try a clickbait advertisement for making money playing video games, which takes them to the online community for a game that is clearly designed to look like Grand Theft Auto. This high-intensity free-form game-play proves too much temptation for Glitch, and driving a wedge between her and Ralph.
The film also dives into various social media sites as Ralph becomes something of an internet phenomenon. His popularity on a YouTube-type site named BuzzzTube is tied to people’s interest in nostalgia, along with the randomness of a ‘80s video game villain appearing all over the internet. In an effort to spam internet users, Glitch is sent to the Disney website so that this movie can cram in as many of the characters and properties that the company owns as possible. A lot of attention was given to the fact that the original voice actors returned to reprise their roles as the Disney princesses, and while that must have been a nice moment for the studio, it mostly just feels like a gimmicky detour in the context of the narrative.
Even shameless self-promotion is not enough to ruin this movie, however, and even a few not-so-brief distractions from the cult of Disney can’t detract from the overall quality. Mostly what makes the movie work is the speed with which is moves from one gag/scenario to the next, but the ending is only effective because we care about the characters and their friendship. Speaking of which, Ralph Breaks the Internet deals with issues of separation with friendships that many children forced to move or change schools are likely to relate to, so that the film has layers of meaning for children, as well as their parents.
The Multi-Screen Edition of Ralph Breaks the Internet includes a Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a code for a digital copy of the movie. There are also a handful of extras, though not all are included on the DVD and it is surprisingly sparse for a film as popular as this. There are five deleted scenes, along with a collection of cat videos used in the film. There are also two featurettes that are more specifically directed at the production side of the film, including a 30-minute making-of extra and a 10-minute one about the music in the movie.
Entertainment Value: 9/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7.5/10
Special Features: 6.5/10