VOD film review: Ralph Breaks the Internet
Ivan Radford | On 27, May 2019
Director: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot
Watch Ralph Breaks the Internet online in the UK: Disney+ / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Wreck-It Ralph is one of the most misunderstood animated movies in recent memory. Packaged as a nostalgic love letter to video games, the story of an 8-bit villain from an arcade platformer swiftly devolved into a hollow tale driven by product placement, with an accept-your-lot message. It was acted with charm, however, by John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman – voicing Ralph and glitching kid racer Vanellope – and so it’s perhaps no surprise that they should turn up to reprise their roles six years later in an animated sequel.
Ralph Breaks the Internet opens up the world of Wreck-It Ralph, as the duo team up to find a spare steering wheel for the broken arcade machine that houses Vanellope’s Sugar Rush game. If that sounds like a chance to do some world-building, though, the sequel only offers more product placement and curiously dated jokes about the online age; from pop-up ads to spam and search engines, there’s nothing in their web-surfing escapades that wasn’t already covered by an episode of Futurama from 2000. There are some nods to the darkness of the modern-day online environment, from the narcissistic side of social media to the abusive nature of trolling commenters, but there’s little in the way of worthwhile lessons or memorable revelations; the film is too busy making gags about eBay or squeezing in scenes that pay tribute to princesses of Disney past.
Ralph and Vanellope as a double-act remain likeable, thanks to Reilly and Silverman’s easygoing chemistry, and there’s something genuinely valuable in the film’s sincere respect for a friendship that’s been forged in the digital realm. But they can’t cover up the cracks in a plot that’s more Chase The MacGuffin than Ready Player One and finds as much originality and depth in its exploration of digital identities as The Emoji Movie. Taraji P. Henson as Yesss, the head algorithm behind video site BuzzzTube, and Gal Gadot as Shank, a tough driver from an adult racing game, are welcome additions to the cast, but as the script hops from easy target to commercial promotion, Ralph Breaks the Internet can’t shake the suspicion that this belated sequel is less a labour of love and more a cash-grab.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is available on Disney+, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.