One of the most entertaining and funniest animated movies of the decade—talking about the originally Wreck-It Ralph here—finally gets the sequel it deserved. Well, it got a sequel, maybe not the one it deserved. That’s better than nothing.
With the secret society of video game arcade characters apparently exhausted as a source of entertainment (hint: it wasn’t), Ralph Breaks the Internet commits the ultimate sin of sequels, opting to go “bigger and better” while eliminating much of what made the original tick. Gone are many of the nostalgic video game characters of our childhood, replaced with living embodiments of the World Wide Web—for example, eBay is a place that arcade characters can visit in person, and these characters can apparently make their own viral videos and memes that humans can consume. Huh?
It’s pleasing enough, but nothing about Ralph Breaks the Internet feels very inspired, its story following the cliché formula of discovering yourself blah blah blah. Whereas Wreck-It Ralph remained focused and seemed to relish in its little details, dedicated to bringing to life a multitude of interesting and emotionally complex (or at least just complex enough to be amusing) characters who fed off one another, Ralph Breaks the Internet unleashes the likable hero-villain voiced by John C. Reilly into an environment of more modern inventions that are neither nostalgia-inspiring nor particularly compelling. It may have worked to see Ralph and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) dealing with the rise of more modern video game fare, but the filmmakers seem much less interested in how the “world” works this go around.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is amusing in parts and is not without its clever moments. Further, it clearly has its heart in the right place. But the movie consists of recognizable plot applied to a less-clever concept; whereas Wreck-It Ralph was unique in how it brought its characters to life, Ralph Breaks the Internet already feels outdated.
As a family film, it’s perfectly fine; as a sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, it’s a big letdown.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.