At first glance, ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ seems to be a brightly coloured, cleverly animated and tooth-achingly sweet story about two best friends that go on a rampant adventure around the internet. While it is all these things, the film is truly a tale about the sacrifices and heartbreak friendships can entail, and how sometimes it’s necessary to experience them.
Our favourite fictional 80’s game character Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and his best friend, Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) have lived out each day jumping from arcade game to arcade game, for the last six years. In that time not much has changed, and that is precisely Vanellope’s problem. Tired of her predictable game and routine evenings, the pint-sized racer is ready for a change. When Ralph tries to help her the game breaks, leaving all the game characters without a home and the threat of their game being closed down for good.
Now, does the film use this opportunity to make a nuanced observation about the current refugee crisis spreading across the globe? No, it uses it to get in a few jokes about parenting and…olives? I’m just as confused as you. Anyway, the only way they can save Vanellope and her friends is to find a replacement controller that will fix their game, and of course, there is only one left.
This takes us on our trip to the internet! A rushing puzzle of fibre optic highways and towering social media companies, some real and some parodies, is the internet that we are greeted with. A mishap on eBay means that Ralph and Vanellope need to find money, and quick. So, they turn to a trusty pop-up add that will promise them “money for playing video games”. On their quest, Vanellope meets Shank (Gal Gadot) a rule-breaking gang leader in a high-stakes racing game.
Several jokes at the expense of the internet later, Vanellope finds herself in Oh My Disney (a real website) where she meets with all the Disney Princesses in the most wonderfully self-deprecating scene put to film in a while. The scene touches on the sexism portrayed throughout most of their films, as well as their ridiculous dresses, and demonstrates perfectly that we may be entering a new age of Disney animation.
The film comes to a very touching end, where Ralph realises that he can’t hold Vanellope back, and learns the valuable lesson that a friend will always do what’s best for the other. In all seriousness, I would suggest having some tissues handy as there are likely to be a few tears shed.
Overall, ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ is a charming and witty film that sheds light on the good and bad sides of internet culture and shows that sometimes the evil we have to battle is inside of us. A heart-warming tale about two friends learning to grow together, that will be enjoyed by all cinema-goers old and young.
PS. Wait till the very end of the credits, it’s worth it!