ON AN ADVENTURE — From left, eBay Elayne, voiced by Rebecca Wisocky; Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly; and Vanellope von Schweetz, voiced by Sarah Silverman in a scene from “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” (Disney via AP)

‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ is plenty of fun

Published Dec 2, 2018 at 9:00am

Disney’s new animated sequel — “Ralph Breaks the Internet” — doesn’t break new ground or match the emotional depth of the first film, but it’s still a fun, enjoyable trip to the theater with a story to tell and a message to share.

Unlike this year’s “Incredibles 2”, another Disney sequel that felt like it was slapped together to cash in on the name brand, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” knows what it wants to say and goes to fun extremes in saying it.

The spectacle is almost overwhelming as the new film brings the Internet to visual life in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s pandering. But the real power comes from Disney itself, as it wields the awesome power of owning all of the entertainment we love.

Picking up several years after the original “Wreck-It Ralph” movie, Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz are living their best lives in the video arcade they call home — but Vanellope is growing bored of the routine, and she yearns for something new and challenging. When her game is in danger of being unplugged, Ralph and Vanellope travel to the Internet itself to figure out a way to save the day, only for Vanellope to become instantly smitten by all the great new opportunities the Internet can offer.

The film is a fun, visual spectacle. The characters were already entertaining in the first film, and now they get to cut loose on a new adventure. John C. Reilly as Ralph and Sarah Silverman as Vanellope bring real energy and emotional depth to the characters, touching on a lot of important themes and life lessons.

One great choice that the film makes is that there is no central villain. There’s no bad guy that the heroes have to defeat. Instead, the conflict rests entirely on Ralph, Vanellope and their insecurities. Vanellope feels guilty about wanting to make a positive life choice for herself when she knows it will hurt her best friend, and Ralph hates losing his best friend, even when he knows deep down this is the right move for her.

It’s a really great lesson for the movie to focus on, and a really great choice for the story. It’s not often these cartoons involve the characters overcoming their personal problems without an external bad guy to punch.

The animation is as good as its ever been. The animated Internet is a visual spectacle, filled with users surfing the web, where sites, apps and games tower over the horizon like skyscrapers. This isn’t the first property to treat the Internet like a city, but no one else has pulled it off to this degree of style and scale.

Speaking of which, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is not afraid to show you the power and scale of Disney. A lot of publicity for the movie has focused on an extended sequence where Vanellope interacts with all of the Disney Princesses, both new and old. It’s a fun scene, and it also marks one of the only times Disney has brought these characters together in mainstream media.

Disney does it in a way that only they can — they own all the characters to begin with, and can easily rehire all of the original voice actors to come back. Just like how they can have Groot, Eeyore and Star Wars Stormtroopers show up for quick cameos.

Don’t be surprised if the popularity of the Disney Princesses scene leads to their own spin-off movie franchise. Haven’t you always wanted to see the Little Mermaid team up with Iron Man?

But if it’s as good as “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, we should be OK.