Wreck-It Ralph has been one of my favorite animated movies since its debut in 2012. I adore the characters, plot, and message that it has, so needless to say I was extremely excited when Disney announced a sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet. I was at the theatre on opening night, expecting a wonderful continuation of the story, but unfortunately, the movie was a huge disappointment.
The plot of this movie is a complete mess. The movie begins with the steering wheel on the Sugar Rush go-kart game breaking, so our heroes Ralph and Vanellope must travel into the internet to purchase a new one off of eBay before Vanellope’s game is unplugged. The movie has a strong start, but once the characters hit “the internet” the movie goes downhill fast. The plot takes so many turns and quickly becomes muddy. There ends up being three storylines in the film, when the writers should have picked one and added more challenging obstacles for the characters. It was almost as if they wanted to make a few separate animated shorts instead, but last minute decided to mash them all together to create an almost two-hour long movie. The big ending “fight” scene was so different and unfitting from the rest of the movie that it feels like it was tacked on last minute when the writers realized there wasn’t as much action as the first film.
Ralph Breaks the Internet was written and produced by pretty much the same team as the first film, despite this, it seems like the movie was made by a team of people who had never seen the original film. There are many moments where Ralph and Vanellope act completely out of character, as if the film tries to create an interesting plot or drama by having these characters behave cruelly to each other. The movie has a nice overall message about letting friends go and make their own life decisions, but you shouldn't need to bend your character’s personalities to the point where they’re almost unrecognizable for the moral of the story. And in all of this mess, where is Fix-It Felix and Sergeant Calhoun? They have a collective minute and a half of screen time, which is disappointing considering their juxtaposed relationship was one of the funniest and best-written parts of the first movie.
The plot also revolves very heavily around pop culture, which brings me to the biggest problem in this movie: it feels like one big advertisement. This film has more in common with The Emoji Movie than the first Wreck It Ralph, and I’m worried that Sony Pictures might sue Disney over idea infringement. You can’t have a movie take place in “the internet” without including social media such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, and it's almost impossible to include companies like that without making the film feel like a two-hour commercial. Pop culture moves incredibly fast, and movies that revolve around pop culture references always age terribly unless the references are done subtlety and cleverly. Sure, having a plotline where Ralph makes viral internet videos and referencing Fortnite dancing is amusing now, but next year when no one cares about the memes featured in the movie its just going to be cringey.
The one part of the film that I enjoyed was the scene where Vanellope meets the Disney princesses. The scene still feels like an advertisement, but it has a few good jokes and cute moments. The princesses show up a few times throughout the plot, and each time they do they make the scene enjoyable. Wreck-It Ralph is a film that I am still blown away by, and while I wasn’t expecting the sequel to be better, I was at the very least expecting a plot that made sense and characters that had even a slight resemblance to the first film. Ralph Breaks the Internet had so much potential, it's unfortunate that the writers weren’t able to move away from all of the pop culture references and instead focus on creating a compelling story.