Ralph Breaks the Internet contains fun – and life-lessons – for every generation in your family, writes Dan Slevin.
Making a film that not only entertained several generations of one family (and that they are still talking about the life lessons they’ve taken from it) is quite an achievement and the Disney animation sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet seems to pull it off quite effortlessly. I’m deeply respectful when a product from the heart of the cinema-industrial-complex manages to be so fulfilling. Maybe, sometimes, you do just have to throw hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of people and hundreds of brands from your corporate family, at something until it works.
Six years ago, Disney made the rare move – for them – of introducing some new characters: Wreck-It Ralph and Vannelope, the ace race car driver. They lived in different games in a spacies parlour where all the game inhabitants got to hang out together when the parlour was closed, and they were off the clock. Ralph was the villain in a game called Fix-it Freddy. Ralph (John C. Reilly) was sick of being a bad guy and wanted to try something else, going from game to game in the arcade, wreaking havoc wherever he went. In the driving game Sugar Rush, Ralph makes friends with underdog Vannelope (Sarah Silverman) and helps her get over her glitch (a bug in the system) to become a regular player in the game.
The new film brings us up to date. Ralph and Vannelope are best pals. They hang out at the same spots every night and do the same stuff. Ralph is happy but Vannelope is tired of nothing changing – especially the racetracks in Sugar Rush which she can drive in her sleep. The arrival at the arcade of Wi-Fi (pronounced “wiffy” by Ralph) opens up the possibility of a world outside, a possibility that becomes a priority when the steering wheel on Sugar Rush breaks and the replacement can only be found somewhere called E-Bay.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a film about relationships – friendships specifically but the lessons are universal – and how friendships are about supporting and loving people when they want to grow, even if that means growing apart from you. And it’s beautifully handled. There’s a ton of adventure (lots of chases but refreshingly little punchy violence), some excellent comedy at the expense of all of who spend any time on the ’net and an utterly enchanting interlude with all the Disney princesses as they relax between shows.
Also, it hardly needs saying with blockbuster cinema anymore, but do stay until the very end. You’ll thank me for it.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is still in theatrical release across New Zealand.