Bad guy turned good Wreck-it Ralph is back for another adventure. Blurring the lines between virtual reality and real life, Ralph, Vanellope and a whole host of cyber beings take us on a wild ride inside the very thing that connects us all, the internet. But is digital connectivity enough to erase Ralph and Vanellope’s own feelings of insecurities as they navigate the course of true friendship and ambition, or will it be the last straw that breaks the internet’s back?
Ralph Breaks the Internet sees John C Reilly reprise his role as the 80s arcade villain with stand-up comedian Sarah Silverman voicing his sassy BFF Vanellope von Schweetz. When their fusty arcade gets a new plug-in, WiFi, the pair find themselves hurtling towards a whole new world which sees their own turned upside down and back to front.
Ralph is the epitome of a pre-Internet generation for whom Sonic and Pacman are second nature but eBay, Google and YouTube are a confusing jumble of letters designed to taunt them. When human error threatens Vanellope’s future, Ralph leaves the safety of his routine life to plunge into the unknown on a quest to restore what he believes to be their mutual happiness.
Prepare to belly laugh at the movie that is relatable to every man, woman and child on earth, unless you are totally disconnected; as Ralph and Vanellope take us on a tour of life inside the world wide web. Populated with human being’s bot representatives and fellow characters made of code, like our wily pair, the Internet world Disney has created acts just as it does IRL. Pop-ups at every turn, a hyperactive search bar trying to guess what we’re looking for and loss of connection that occurs seemingly for no reason. The movie creates a brilliant dramatic irony as it flips between the Internet and the people using it, casting an interesting light on an age driven by technology.
More than that though is how Disney is continuing to position itself away from the gender stereotypes of old and flipping the roles of men and women in its stories. Frozen, Moana, and even Zootopia all pit female strength and determination against the heroine’s male counterparts. Now it’s Vanellope’s turn to take the wheel as she searches for her inner “Princess” and meets a bunch of them too. The hilarious reunion of all Disney’s past princesses is quite possibly the best scene in the movie, at least it is for me, and perhaps anyone who’s grown up with Aurora, Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel and their modern day peers. Disney proves it has a wicked sense of humour and the retrospective genius to breathe new life into traditional archetypes.
Pushing both the audience and its protagonist out of the comfort zone of familiarity, Ralph Breaks the Internet is about subverting the way we look at the modern world, taking a good close look at how we live and in so doing, forcing us to face ourselves and deciding whether we like what’s looking back at us. It is this culmination of reflection, and every Internet-user’s foe, a virus, which brings Ralph face to face with himself and his desperation to sustain a real connection with another being. It’s Ralph who needs Vanellope, so badly in fact that his very need causes the entire Internet reality to come crashing down around them.
With a clever play on how insecurities wreck our very existence, both literally and mechanically, the question is does Ralph have the tools to fix what is broken?
Ralph Breaks the Internet (PG) is in cinemas from Boxing Day.