Ralph Breaks the Internet: A Fun Movie with Clever Messages

Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly, Yess, voiced by Taraji P. Henson and Vanellope von Schweetz, voiced by Sarah Silverman in a scene from 'Ralph Breaks the Internet.'  (Disney via AP)

Movie critic and pop culture historian Richard Crouse provides insights on three films hitting Canadian cinemas this weekend: “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Creed II,” and “Green Book.”


If we were to focus on the underlying message, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” could easily be titled “Ralph Wants You to Contemplate the Consequences of Internet Usage.” It may not be as catchy, but within the sequel to “Wreck-It Ralph,” there lies a profound commentary on the perils of Internet culture.

Six years have passed since we were introduced to Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), a discontented video game character yearning for respect. The sequel unfolds when the steering wheel controller of the Sugar Rush game console breaks.

“It might be time to sell Sugar Rush for parts,” suggests Stan Litwak (played by Ed O’Neill), the proprietor of Litwak’s Family Fun Center & Arcade.

The character Shank, voiced by Gal Gadot, in a scene from 'Ralph Breaks the Internet.'  (Disney via AP)

Before Litwak decides to unplug the machine, Ralph and the game’s racer, Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman), embark on a mission to relocate Sugar Rush’s characters to different games.

In their quest to restore the damaged game, Ralph and Vanellope delve into the Internet, utilizing the arcade’s wifi. Their objective: to secure a replacement steering wheel listed on eBay, though they find themselves short on funds.

“I left my wallet at home,” Ralph quips to the eBay cashier. “It’s in the wallet room, and the door is locked!”

Their encounter with Shank (played by Gal Gadot), a racer in the intense Slaughter Race, initially appears to resolve their monetary dilemma. The violent racing game offers a lucrative income source, but as Shank’s influence on Vanellope deepens, Ralph begins to fear that his friend is slipping away.

Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly and Double Dan, voiced by Alfred Molina in a scene from 'Ralph Breaks the Internet.'  (Disney via AP)

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” shines brightest when it adopts a subversive tone. The vibrant animation and imaginative portrayal of the Internet – where eBay operates as an actual auction house and “likes” get vacuumed up – captivate the audience. Yet, it’s the film’s underlying messages that leave a lasting impression.

Woven into the narrative are clever lessons on toxic friendships, how insecurity can corrode relationships akin to a computer virus, and the perils of fixating on social media approval. The film reaches its peak during a scene where Vanellope, exploring OhMyDisney.com, stumbles upon the Disney Princess break room.

Here, the film playfully mocks Disney’s archetype of the princess: “Do people assume all your problems get solved because a strong man came along?” However, fans of the first film are aware that Vanellope is a reluctant princess, preferring the title of president. In this scene, she helps her fellow princesses shed their conventional roles, while they, in turn, assist her in discovering her life’s path.

The character Vanellope von Schweetz posing with Disney princesses in a scene from 'Ralph Breaks the Internet.' (Disney via AP)

“I gaze at the meaningful water, and suddenly, I start singing about my problems? I don’t think so,” quips Vanellope, dismantling one of Disney’s most familiar princess clichés.

Although “Ralph Breaks the Internet” includes laughter, it isn’t a pure comedy. Rather, it’s a heartfelt exploration of friendship with elements of wild cartoon action and satire. The film offers a highly specific narrative about two animated characters while shedding light on universal themes from the real world.

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