The Movie Guru: ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ clever and a little heartbreaking
The Movie Guru
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What: “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”
Rated: PG for some action and rude humor.
Screenplay by: Phil Johnston and Pamela Ribon.
Story by: Rich Moore, Phil Johnson, Jim Reardon, Pamela Ribon and Josie Trinidad.
Directed by: Phil Johnston and Rich Moore.
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBraker, Alfred Molina and more.
Grade: Four stars.
Disney movie franchises inevitably grow up, just like the kids who watch them.
That’s the case with “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” the sweet, silly, but ultimately more solemn sequel to 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph.” A meditation on evolving friendships, changing life circumstances and learning when to let go, the movie speaks to everyone from kids who are growing up to the adults who still have plenty to learn. It’ll make you laugh, but in the end it’ll also break your heart a little bit.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” starts with a montage of what the last six years have been like for Ralph and Vanellope, days spent in their games and nights hanging out with each other at other games in the arcade. Ralph is happy, but Vanellope sometimes wonders if this is all there is. When an incident with Vanellope’s game forces her and Ralph onto the internet looking for a fix, Vanellope realizes there’s more to the world and Ralph worries that he could lose his best friend forever.
There are so many clever moments sprinkled throughout the film. The best scenes with the Disney princesses aren’t the ones you see in the trailer, and the racers in the online racing game have some genuinely delightful conversations. Fix-It Felix and Calhoun have a much smaller role in this movie than they did in the last one, but their appearances are sweet, in character and a nice next step for both of them.
Also, the movie’s version of the internet is a delight. It’s what “The Emoji Movie” should have been, with well-thought out corollaries to actual user experience and some actually charming details. Their Alan Tudyk-voiced search engine makes me want to say “thank you” every time I put a question into a search bar. They even make dodgy pop-up ads seem cute, which I hadn’t thought was possible.
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Of course, there’s also a heaping helping of emotions. This one goes for the feels even more regularly than “Wreck-It Ralph” did, focusing mostly on the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope. They’ll make you laugh, cry and even hide your face because it’s too hard to watch what’s happening on the screen. No matter what’s going on, you always feel how much these two mean to each other.
The movie even manages to slip in what feels like miniature therapy sessions, both for the characters and the audience watching. Ralph and Vanellope both confront things about themselves, what they want out of life and what they need to do in order to move forward. They’re both true to the characters, but at the same time they’re also issues that several people in the audience either are or will be going through.
Because we all have to grow up sometime; even if you’re a Disney character.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.