If you saw trailers for Ralph Breaks The Internet and you’re a pessimist like myself, it might have looked like nothing more than Disney stroking their own ego. The advertising prominently displayed scenes of Vanellope von Schweetz, the feisty candy cart racer from the first film, exploring Oh My Disney, running by every single property the company owns from Star Wars to Marvel to Pixar. The selling point of it all is a scene where Vanellope hangs out with all of the other Disney princesses, the first time all of Disney’s royalty has appeared on-screen together. It’s an eye-rolling display of cross-brand promotion, and when Ralph Breaks The Internet isn’t busy being a commercial for a hundred different companies and products, it’s just plain boring.
A sequel to 2012’s surprisingly fun and touching Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph Breaks The Internet ditches the nostalgia of classic arcade style games in favor of jumping into the modern age and the digital world. When the steering wheel for Vanellope’s Sugar Rush game, AKA her home, gets broken, she and Ralph head to the Internet in search of eBay to find a replacement. After accidentally overbidding on the item, the two best friends have to find a way to earn enough money before Sugar Rush gets shut down for good.
Ralph Breaks The Internet starts far too slowly – the first ten minutes are just Ralph and Vanellope talking to each other and hanging out in the different games introduced in the first film. There’s nothing to grab your attention right away or even a good joke early on. Sadly, that’s what you can expect from the rest of the runtime. It feels lifeless and cold, the heart of its predecessor seemingly gone, and in its place are scenes of Ralph and Vanellope messing around on the Internet in lieu of interesting character interactions or plot.
There’s something disturbing about a film targeted towards children that proudly displays companies and products such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and holds them up in a brilliant light; literally putting them on a pedestal as if there’s no negative side to these things at all. A film about that would’ve been interesting; start off by showing the wonders and glitz of these social media sites, and then go into the darker aspects of them. Ralph Breaks The Internet might like to think it gets into that, but it’s for all of two seconds. There’s a brief scene where Ralph, after becoming a viral video star and thinking everyone loves him, stumbles into the comments section and reads hurtful things, and it seems like the movie is about to take a great turn, but then it’s over and Ralph promptly gets over it and moves on.
Ralph Breaks The Internet is basically Late Stage Capitalism: The Movie. It’s uncomfortable watching the very first thing that Ralph sees upon arriving at the Internet be Snapchat, followed by Amazon. It’s a movie that’s not really a movie, instead it feels like something the marketing heads at Disney came up with and the creative team had to find a way to build a story around it. It doesn’t work. The product feels hollow. I sat through the whole film without feeling anything besides maybe one chuckle (all of the best jokes were in the trailers). It’s a strange exercise in corporate synergy, but while The Emoji Movie was shameless about it, Ralph Breaks The Internet pretends like it isn’t. Which might be worse.
Ralph Breaks The Internet comes across as a lifeless cash grab designed to promote every single brand known to man. There are some creative ideas, but the heart of the first film is completely gone.