By Laurie Coker
Classic video game bad-guy Ralph is back in the delightfully entertaining Ralph Breaks the Internet. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) race back into our hearts. Co-directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore stop at nothing to engage readers with eye-popping animation and vivid colors. Johnston, who co-wrote the screenplay with Pamela Ribon, however, is what lifts Ralph Breaks the Internet up, making it fun for everyone.
Ralph and fellow game folks exist harmoniously insider their arcade worlds. They do their thing day in and day out, and Vanellope becomes restless. Her life lacks variety, the tracks never change, but it is not until her game breaks that she and Ralph venture into the internet to find eBay and a new steering wheel for her outdated game. Once inside the world wide web, Ralph and Vanellope go on an adventure that tests their friendship and explores the boundaries and limits of emotional ties. Silverman is the star voice here, although Riley’s Ralph gets top bill. Vanellope’s struggle to follow her dreams or lose her best friend resonates with all ages and Silverman makes it real. Even animated, we feel what these two friends experience, offering up messages and lessons for us all.
In addition to the stellar voice cast, which includes Gal Gadot (Shank), Jane Lynch (Calhoun) and Jack McBrayer (Felix), creators entertain by making countless references to the booming and often strange internet culture – cat and goat videos, likes, social media, search engines, and more and more. Ralph Breaks the Internet provides a wonderfully vivid, animated (and often satirical) tour of the place where we do almost everything – shop, entertain ourselves, connect to friends and family, interact with people all over the world, learn new things and bear our feelings. Johnston and Ribon even take us into the darker aspects of the web – worms and all.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is an excellent sequel in a movie world where little feels original or fresh. Johnston and Ribon’s script is ingeniously simple and skillfully witty – drawing from pop culture and Disney alike. It’s playfully serious too – making it thematically and amusingly relevant to all ages – its messages clear and timely. More than anything though. It is great fun and worth a solid A and a full price ticket. Ralph Wrecks the Internet succeeds because it is clever, complex and the complete package.