Wreck-It-Ralph (John C. Reilly) couldn’t have a more perfect life. His best friend, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) plays I Spy where ever they go with a glass of root beer in hand. But one day Sugar Rush breaks down and the sweet citizens have no game to call their own. Taking a cat’s curiosity on the newly installed WiFi, the duo slither past security to surf the web for a new part to fix her game and return to a normal life.
Since its inception, sequels have had an interesting history at the house of mouse. Walt Disney was initially against the idea after experimenting with the continuing adventures of The Three Little Pigs stating, “You can’t top pigs with pigs.” And nay anyone forget that quote when reminiscing the onslaught of direct-to-dvd sequels from the late 90’s to the mid 2000’s. Some of which got a theatrical release at the expense of the veteran animators. As of late more are popping up from the original teams to wash away the thought that Disney is incapable of churning out quality follow-ups. This is hardly the case.
The friendship, connecting message and final change is a refreshing break from the “be yourself” moral that’s damaged the medium (not genre) of animation in the 2010’s. If anything, it’s an evolution. The returning voices are still as strong as before with John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman bringing the best out of each other through and through. But it’s locked behind a soulless shell of a plot that takes even less advantage of the concept than the first movie. Granted it’s a million times better than the dumpster fire that is The Emoji Movie, but the internet moves at a breakneck speed. Animation on the other hand takes years to craft for a simple jab at memes and cat videos. If you’ve seen it on the web, there’s nothing new apart from the millions of dollars used to polish the fur and logo. That’s what it feels every time Amazon or Google is shoved into background: a corporate advertisement compared to the inner social circle of the arcade (Don’t get me started on Felix and Calhoun’s overlooked subplot). Some moments even have the main leads break character as well as their empathetic connection to their motivations. If that’s not enough, rules that were established as survival tactics are thrown out the window and never taken into account for the new locations given how much thought went into setting up this utopia. So why care about it in the first place? Even the commentary on the internet is bare minimum because going all out in showing the toxic underbelly could damage the product’s reputation. Twitter’s apparently the El Dorado of social media and algorithms actually work with content creators instead of screwing them over as evident by the #Where’stheFairUse movement. Then again, this company won’t give The Hunchback of Notre Dame the live-action treatment, so why expect them to go all out in this?
Amblin not only set the definitive example of crossovers with Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but also took advantage of the booming pop culture landscape with Ready Player One. Different copyrights, different studios, different cooperations. Mickey Mouse owns all the displayed properties when the Oh My! Disney scene comes into play. So it comes off as an ego boost on their tent pole strategy to become the biggest conglomerate rather than an ambitious celebration of digital stars. Where are the Mario brothers? Is their deal with Illumination keeping them from making an appearance? Surely the company that bought both Star Wars and Marvel could afford a few minutes of the duo’s time since many Disney’s films raked in, at minimum, a billion dollars each. In fact, where are all the other retro characters that didn’t show up to the first party? There’s a Dragon’s Lair cabinet at the beginning yet somehow Dirk the Daring isn’t hanging out with everyone? Why? It was the subject of an article shortly after the first movie. Some of the jokes hit, but in the grand scheme its a needle in a haystack of funny moments.
The animation does bring the short film Inner Workings full circle with the avatars. It’s bright, colorful and lends itself to some creative moments like the final obstacle, but that’s about it when it comes to making a unique internet setting after The Emoji Movie beat this to the punch. The latter wasn’t done well, but in animation whatever sets the example first is usually more remembered, good or bad. Just look at Aladdin before the public knew about The Thief and the Cobbler. The millions of dollars that went into this stands out both on its own and as a collective juxtaposition against all the direct-to-dvd sequels budgeted at three million dollars a piece (In animation that’s called chump change). But because it’s highlighting commercialism and dated satire over a cohesive plot, getting invested takes too much time.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is technically one of the better Disney sequels, but given the track record that’s not saying much. It’s their biggest selling sequel at the box-office because it’s their only theatrical sequel in recent memory. Some of the animation is dazzling with the character designs, but as a general movie goer and an avid gamer it’s depressing to see more wasted potential on original ideas a second time around while sitting through Emoji Movie’s deleted scenes to get a refreshing message. It’s a corporate sellout that’ll be dated by the time another animated feature decides to use a screaming goat as a punchline for the millionth time (*cough* The Grinch *cough*). If you have kids, it won’t hurt to take them as long as there are clarifications on the real dangers of the internet during this digital age. But if you want the world to evolve and grow with more opportunities to meet iconic pixelated celebrities, this is a game over once the internet takes hold.
Pros: affectionate friendship, somber moments, glamorous animation, touching change, strong voice acting
Emoji Movie Virus, shorthanded video game cameos, rule breaking, no grounded direction, stock internet setting, out of character moments, dated satire
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