With a limited number of '80s video games available for invasion, Disney's Ralph Breaks the Internet -- the sequel to 2012's Wreck-It Ralph -- liberates Ralph (John C. Reilly) and his buddy Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) from Litwak's Arcade, unleashing them on the Internet at large.
Six years on, Ralph no longer resents being a video game villain now that he has his pal, Vanellope. She, however, finds beating other racers on an all candy track tedious. To help her out, Ralph modifies her game, but in the process ruins the antiquated machine's steering wheel. A replacement would cost more than it brings in in a year, so Mr. Litwak (Ed O'Neill) plans on shutting down the console, leaving Vanellope gameless.
Ralph Breaks the Internet
87 Cast: (voices of) John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Bill Hader, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill
Directors: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Rating: Rated PG for some action and rude humor
Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
But the arcade finally has Wi-Fi, which means the pair can travel to this mysterious World Wide Web they've heard of, where they can obtain a replacement wheel at a place called "eBay." All they have to do is shout high numbers at the human being on the other end of the screen.
Paying for it is another matter, because the two are barely aware of tokens, much less cash or even bitcoin. They now have 24 hours to back up their unexpectedly generous bid, or Vanellope's game Sugar Rush will shut down forever.
Directors Phil Johnson and Rich Moore and screenwriter Pamela Ribon (Moana) make the most of the wider universe their characters inhabit. Because money is involved, Ralph and Vanellope discover some of the less savory aspects of Web surfing, including viruses and pop-up ads like one run by J.P. Spamley (an uncredited Bill Hader).
Just about every Web-based retailer gets a cameo in the film, but before you can say "product placement," the filmmakers actually find worthwhile things to do with other companies' trademarks.
It doesn't hurt that Disney owns a disproportionately large number of entertainment franchises. The Mouse House manages to work in several of its properties and even gets most of the Disney princess voices to reprise its old characters to amusing effect. Yes, there are a lot of in-jokes, but they are consistently funny, and Ralph and Vanellope have a gift for turning standard tropes sideways.
(Who knew the other princesses would treat the hoodie-wearing Vanellope as a fashion icon?)
All of this would get old if the two leads weren't endearing. The two don't want to be alone, but Vanellope discovers a Grand Theft Auto-like game led by a powerful crime-lord named Shank (Gal Gadot).
For a cartoon, the characters are remarkably dynamic. Shank can be a fearsome enemy, but she has survived a fearsome environment because she values her friends and knows survival tips players haven't learned yet. You'd probably be wise, too, if you had Wonder Woman for a voice.
Johnston and Moore consistently reward eagle-eyed viewers who keep their eyes out for billboards and other landmarks in the Web. The post-credit gags are inspired. Because the gags are based on the broader Web, you don't have to feel left out if you were not born when games like Q*bert were popular. One thing that unites children and their parents is acknowledging that pop-up ads are annoying.
MovieStyle on 11/23/2018
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