'Ralph Breaks the Internet' - Movie Review

The sequel to one of my favourite animated films of the last several years, "Wreck-It Ralph."

John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman reprise their roles as Ralph and Vanellope respectively, and most of the other voice actors from the previous movie return as well - although the focus is definitely on Ralph and Vanellope this time. The owner of the arcade their game machines are in gets a connection to the Internet, and the two set out to find a replacement part for Vanellope's game.

Unfortunately, they have much the same sequel problem "Shrek 2" had - an enormous number of pop culture, movie, and Internet references don't actually make up for the emotion and storyline you skipped over to give time to all these references. Because it's Disney, they can reference "Star Wars" and Pixar. Because they have the clout, they got permission to spent a butt-load of time on a website called eBay. Google features prominently too. It's mildly amusing to see an ancient and dusty sign that says "Geocities," but A) this may amuse the parents watching the first time (only), and B) the kids won't get it at all. And of course they have the rights to reference Disney Princesses. They drag in about 15 of them (the ones from "Frozen," "Tangled," "Aladdin," and "Brave" - plus several more) - and include several songs, one of my least favourite part of Disney movies, and something the original "Ralph" movie happily passed on entirely. So Vanellope gets part of her emotional development through song - not a very successful option given that Vanellope's singing voice is awful. (I'm not judging Silverman's singing voice - who knows whether or not she did the actual singing - but the movie's internal mythology is tied to the very cracked voice that Silverman created for Vanellope and that is NOT a voice for songs.)

So in the end we have a story that's much grander in scale than the previous one (with Ralph's mis-steps threatening the entire Internet instead of just one game machine), but has a much more limited emotional arc and story because they were too damn busy making clever references. Guess what? That makes the conclusion feel hollow and too easily won because it's rushed (even though the movie clocks in at almost two hours ... although that does include a record 15 minutes of credits and a Ralph-rolling, yes, they referenced Rick-rolling). Has some fun and amusing moments, but nowhere near the strength of the original.