Wreck-It Ralph References The Internet

This was a good children’s movie. It capitalized on a lot of things the first film did well and was a good sequel, but at the same time could stand alone as its own movie, almost to a fault. The 2019 movie, directed by Phil Johnson and Rich Moore, both of who worked on the first Ralph film, is an expansion on the characters and franchise. There were moments that made me laugh and others that made me feel those harder emotions. Opening up the universe to internet and other IP’s made the meta style jokes, that Wreck-It Ralph did so well, was a real joy. And just like the first iteration, it had a positive message for children to learn a lesson. My only real issue is that I left thinking the movie really didn’t need to involve the Wreck-It Ralph characters and could have just been a better Emoji Movie.

What made the first Wreck-It Ralph movie really stand out was referencing games that everyone grew up with. The nostalgia factor was turned all the way up, and unlike other movies, they made it work without being too heavy-handed. The studio applied that same perfect line to the biggest websites in this movie, and it works. I laughed seeing how they interpreted companies like Amazon and Pintrest. This type of humor has been seen in other movies, like I said this was what the emoji movie wished it was, but what I liked more were the meta moments. A perfect example is when they showed the old run down parts of internet that no one goes to anymore. Seeing references to Y2K and CD-ROM hit that same level of nostalgia for me. Another great visual moment was when the movie takes you to the Dark Web. However the most entertaining section of the movie,  which was slightly spoiled in the trailers, was the Disney website and specifically the Disney Princesses. I wont tell you who or what else is referenced in that scene but it was great. So great in-fact that I would have almost preferred the entire movie just take place at Disneyland. But at the end of the day, the movie is still about video game characters, so they needed to shove in an online video game, which was probably one of the weaker aspects of the film.

As much as I like what happens in the movie and where the movie goes, I do feel it was a weird choice for where the character’s arc. Specifically for Sarah Silverman’s character Vanellope. Her plot revolves around her desire to change-up life. Being stuck in a game with the same tracks and being controlled by the players  is not enough for happiness. the solution/drive is her considering being an NPC in an online MMO adult game (think GTA knock off.) This doesn’t really work for where the character came from. I do enjoy the message but it just seems weird coming from these characters. One thing I could have liked seeing is introducing a new character for the message or better yet just making it an original film all together.

After the events of the first movie, Ralph, voiced by John C Reilly, and Vanellope struggle to find their place in life and be happy and rewarded for it. Ralph continues that momentum by happy. He is no longer treated bad for being a villain and therefore loves working the same job every day. He is a simple man with a simple life and it makes him happy. But the movie tells us that type of life isn’t ideal for everyone, some people need change. This is where the message to the children came through and regardless of my opinions on the character, I really liked it. Ralph and Vanellope are friends, but friends do not need to have the same dreams. Life changes, people change and you have no control. The message to the children in the audience is a combination of following your dream but ,more originally, also being okay with others following theirs. I cannot tell you how much I think people need to hear that. This is where the internet references really shine. Specifically with stuff like comment sections. A lot of anger and negativity on the internet is from insecure people who are upset they don’t have control of the world around them. Ralph Breaks the Internet gets major points for being the first film I’ve ever seen to teach kids to be better people on the internet, because it’s a beautiful place as long as you learn to accept the things you have no control over.

I love the message for the kids in this movie but I do not appreciate the humor. The movie is full of fart joke level humor. I found myself rolling my eyes for a lot of the dialogue. I wasn’t expecting something complex and full of depth. I really did like most of the jokes like the internet scammers and click bait, but when it came to actually straight original humor, it was not good. I think that most of the movie’s dialogue was lacking because of their audience demographic. Some of the logic in the movie was just too simple, the plot points just happened to fall together too easily. I wasn’t upset while watching because I knew it was a movie made for children, but studios need to remember that parents are watching the movie too. The films that go down as some of the greatest children’s movies can be watched again and again by all ages throughout all time. Some of those classics got away with jokes you didn’t fully understand until you were an adult. that balance of entertaining to kids and adults is a fine line that this movie just doesn’t do it well. Like I said there were references to the old internet, so they were trying, but just not hard enough.

I liked this movie but I didn’t love it, not nearly as much as the first. It does survive The Snappening. It was colorful and funny and it made me authentically smile. But if there ends up being a third movie in the franchise, than they need to step it up. This franchise is getting very dangerous in relying on the name drops to sell tickets. References and nostalgia can only get you so far, the audience needs real substance in a story in order to get people to come back. You can fill an animated movie full of famous voices but it’s meaningless if they don’t have anything important to say. It’s hard making a sequel that is better than the first, but at least this movie stands on its own and is enjoyable. And Disney Princesses can kick some serious ass.

 

Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith

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