"Ralph Breaks the Internet" hits high score

Walt Disney Studios

In a world where meme culture reigns and news items trend and are forgotten in minutes, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” encapsulates society today while poking fun at it.

This is one of the most adult animated Disney movies the studio has released, drawing from the breakout smash of the original 2012 hit and also the sardonic humor 2016’s “Deadpool” popularized.

It is not crass humor or crude jokes for the older people in the audience, like me, as the film finds a way to somehow both make fun of Disney predecessors for clunkily-included heartfelt endings and still give you one that will make your eyes water.

It is truly a great mix of solid writing, subtle references that don’t get in your face too much and world-building on an already neat video game lifestyle the original introduced us to.

The film – directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston – picks up six years after the original with Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are living the 9-5 work life. Days include Ralph smashing the same building he has demolished for more than 30 years and Vanellope always winning her racing game, with the three maps boring her.

Nightly, the duo goes to “Tappers” and drink root beer to talk about their days. Ralph enjoys the monotony of it while Vanellope yearns for something more. The duo inadvertently get their wish when a part breaks on her game and the arcade owner deems the repair too expensive, leading Ralph and Vanellope to join the 21st Century and hook a ride on the Internet Highway to find the part on eBay.

While it is a nice callback to the original to have the first 15 minutes in the arcade world, the movie feels different when they get to the internet and it is just a credit to the writers for making it feel like that. What follows is a crazy journey full of viruses, Disney princesses and Grand Theft Auto-esque violence.

The movie’s witty dialogue and social criticism – coming mostly from the Disney Princesses who are wonderfully drawn for this film – make it feel original and does well at showing these types of movies don’t always have to be the same for kids to enjoy them.

The story at the heart of this movie is the dynamic between Vanellope and Ralph. Once they are tasked to steal a car from Shank (Gal Gadot) in an uber violent GTA rip-off online game in order to make some money to buy the arcade game part, Vanellope falls in love with the open world dynamic of the game “Slaughter Race.”

In that world, there aren’t just three tracks but rather an entire map that is constantly updated and the story is never the same. With Shank, who looks exactly like Gadot, Vanellope sees herself as part of a new family whereas Ralph would rather be back in his arcade game, spending nights driving around Tron after a long day of wrecking it.

The two’s insecurities about life on their own is delved into instead of ignored, which is such a problem in society today. Underneath all of the references and memes, the movie is about a generational conflict of staying in the past or moving to the future and instead of being a never-ending argument, the two come to agreeable sides and make up.

It is a happy ending, but it isn’t contrived. It feels earned. In an era where movie studios are ripped for being unoriginal, it seems fitting that a sequel from a studio that basically invented reusing its own content feels like one of the more intelligent pieces in a while.

Rating: PG for some action and rude humor.

My score: 100/100

Jordan Bishop is a writer for the Stillwater News Press and can be reached at jbishop@stwnewspress.com.

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