Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

Director: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore

Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill

Screenplay: Phil Johnston, Pamela Ribon

112 mins. Rated PG for some action and rude humor.

 

I was not the biggest fan of Wreck-It Ralph. I had a number of different reasons for my opinion, but I will also say that, at the time, I was carrying a bias about Disney films. After all, Disney is a machine, and like any machine, it has to function similarly at all times. I found the first film to be overly reliant upon video game and arcade nostalgia that bogged it down. I was also much more interested in Ralph’s (John C. Reilly, Chicago, Holmes & Watson) journey and felt it was less interesting when he got involved with Vanellope (Sarah Silverman, Battle of the Sexes, TV’s The Sarah Silverman Program). Wreck-It Ralph was a hit, though (everyone I knew loved it), and while it took six years for a sequel, I was still excited for the wild ride that is Ralph Breaks the Internet.

Ralph and Vanellope are celebrating six awesome years as best friends, and while Ralph is fine with the way his days go, Vanellope wants more. She is tired of the predictability of her game, so Ralph sets out to help her. When his plan fails spectacularly, causing Sugar Rush to break down, it seems like as though Ralph may have inadvertently doomed Vanellope. Fortunately, they find that the replacement part for Sugar Rush is available on the internet, and the two set out to bring it back. Through their adventure, Ralph is forced to face his greatest fear: change.

There’s good and bad to the direction of this Wreck-It Ralph follow-up. It’s similar at times to the story of the first film with video game nostalgia traded out for social media addiction. That being said, the way the social media and internet references work in the film is to force Ralph and Vanellope to examine their lives and change, for good or bad. I think the sequel is more successful in creating real relationships amongst these arcade characters. There’s also a tendency to fall back on Disney properties in the film, a decision opposite to Spielberg’s choice in Ready Player One to seemingly eliminate as many references as possible to his films. Again, though, the Disney Princess scene is absolutely worth the price of admission. As I said, good and bad to these creative choices.

Ralph is a more interesting character this time out. His internal conflict with himself and Vanellope’s choices are so strong and real and accessible. It’s really powerful character direction, something for its viewers to register with as they grow older. I also like how Vanellope is struggling in the sequel, knowing she has a good life but wanting more than that. It makes her more than a cutesy sidekick.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is a good outing from Disney, though not their best. I think it’s a better film than Wreck-It Ralph, and I think the conflict in the film resonates rather nicely. The film falls back on Disney wanting to sell toys, but there’s some good in there too made by strong characters and a strong story arc. It just gets muddled sometimes.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Rich Moore, Byron Howard, and Jared Bush’s Zootopia, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

Zootopia (2016)

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Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrance, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira

Screenplay: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston

108 mins. Rated PG for some thematic elements, rude humor and action.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Animated Feature of the Year [Pending]

IMDb Top 250: #183 (as of 8/6/2016)

 

You want proof that miracles can happen? Look no further than this year’s Zootopia.

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Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin, TV’s Big Love, Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Never Beast) grew up being told by just about everyone that she wasn’t fit to be who she wanted to be: a police officer in the big city of Zootopia. But she proves them all wrong. When she gets to Zootopia, however, she discovers that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to prove herself. Then, she comes across a dangerous mystery involving animal members of the society going stark-raving mad, so Judy enlists the help of con-fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman, Horrible Bosses, Central Intelligence) to help her discover who or what is responsible.

Let’s just discuss the problems that Zootopia faced. After Disney/Pixar faced issues with both Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur as far as production went, they immediately went into a film like Zootopia that faced major backlash after the initial test screenings. The original version focused almost entirely on Nick Wilde, who became downright unlikable. The entire film was overhauled in favor of Judy Hopps. Then, the decision to bring in so many heavy issues like Race and Class discrimination. Zootopia should’ve failed.

But it didn’t. Zootopia is a rare animated film that has major appeal for both children and parents (and no, I’m not just referring to the strange Breaking Bad reference). It puts together an interesting case for the heroes to solve, but Zootopia also faces issues like racial discrimination and class treatment head-on, as well as issues of assumed gender roles. In the film, Judy experiences discrimination from Chief Bogo (Idris Elba, Pacific Rim, Star Trek Beyond) over her appearance. The world treats Judy that she was born a bunny, so her place is on the farm. The major themes of Zootopia may be simple (Don’t judge a book by its cover), but its underlying subtext is real heavy.

And that’s fine. The adult material is easily related to viewers of all ages. And the kids get something out of all this too. They see a funny little scene involving sloths. We as adults see a hilarious satire of the DMV (you know the scene). It works so well on multiple levels.

Now, Zootopia isn’t perfect. It runs on a little too long and doesn’t have all that rewatchability that most Disney films have, but these are minor issues overall.

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The fact of the matter is that Zootopia is a gorgeously animated film that surpassed all of my expectations. It will easily be on the roster of best animated films for this year. If you haven’t seen it yet, this film comes highly recommended.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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