In this sequel to 2012’s animated feature Wreck-It Ralph, video arcade character Ralph is enjoying a predictable but fulfilling life. By day he performs his role as a character in the game. When the arcade closes down for the day, he hangs out with his videogame character friends—particularly his best friend, Vanellope. Ralph is thrilled with the way he gets to use his time.
Vanellope, however, is growing tired of racing the same routes over and over. She longs for adventure rather than knowing exactly what to expect at the end of each day. When her game breaks and the only way to save it is to get a replacement part from eBay, a whole new world opens up. Ralph and Vanellope embark on a voyage into the Internet.
That is the basic premise of Ralph Breaks the Internet; the friendship and the journey take center stage. But there’s a lot more going on in this fully realized film.
Director Rich Moore and his co-writers have created a fantastic animated vision for what the Internet might look like in action. The logos for many familiar online businesses and apps vie for attention as Ralph and Vanellope make their way through the Internet. (A couple of times I was afraid I had bought tickets for a commercial, as brand names are used frequently.)
The movie both expresses appreciation for the ways the Internet has connected us and made commerce easier and at the same time issues a subtle critique of the way users are distracted and transported from site to site by mundane boredom or more nefarious motives. Those familiar brand names are often used subversively in that critique.
At the same time, the movie uses the device of a digital virus to unfold the way insecurity can destroy relationships, creating distrust and frustration between friends. Much as the movie Inside Out helped children visualize emotions, and in particular the way memories can be affected by emotions like sadness, Ralph Breaks the Internet creates images of the way insecurity works. As Ralph’s insecurity is replicated and grows, it blocks progress and fractures his friendship.
The film even considers vocation and how work matters in our lives. Vanellope may have been bored at her job at the beginning of the movie, but she had a purpose. When her game breaks, the resulting lack of purpose takes a toll on her.
This is a fun, rollicking film for the whole family, with the possible exception of the very youngest children, who may find the climactic scene a bit frightening. It offers families an opportunity to discuss how the Internet can be both a tool that aids us and a place where we can lose ourselves, giving consideration to the fact that time is one of the most important resources God gives us to use for his kingdom. (Walt Disney)