Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Ralph Breaks the Internet

Title: Ralph Breaks the Internet

Describe This Movie Using One Simpsons Quote:

BILL GATES: Your internet ad was brought to my attention, but I can't figure out what — if anything — Compu-Global-Hyper-Meganet does.
Brief Plot Synopsis: N00b unleashes internet-threatening virus without use of pornography, somehow.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevent To The Film: 3.5 Great White albums out of 5.

Tagline: "He's gonna wreck it."

Better Tagline: "Repairmen HATE him!!!"

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Six years after saving Sugar Rush, Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have a pretty decent routine going, even though Vanellope finds herself wishing for something more. When the steering wheel to her game is broken, she and Ralph use the new wifi connection at Litwak's Arcade to go on to the internet to find a replacement. While there, the pair's friendship will be tested by Ralph's stubborness and Vanellope's growing fascination with the online game Slaughter Race and its lead character Shank (Gal Gadot).

"Critical" Analysis: Accurately representing technology is a risky proposition for any filmmaker. Even the best crafted efforts run the risk of speculative mistakes (Blade Runner), while the worst are simply unwatchable because they date themselves before they even hit theaters (The Lawnmower Man, Hackers).

Ralph Breaks the Internet may trake place several years after the first movie, but obsolescence is still a key theme. And in one sense, the specter of Sugar Rush going to the salvage yard is mostly played for laughs, as Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) and Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch) find they have their hands full after adopting the 15 racing princesses. But mostly it serves to fuel Vanellope's quest for meaning.

And what better place to bolster your self-esteem than the internet? This is a Disney movie, after all, so reality has naturally been sanded down a bit for family friendly purposes (hence, you won't see a PornHub skyscraper next to Google's and Amazon's). The only time the web is represented as anything other than a gleaming, Futurama-style metropolis is when Ralph ventures to the "dark web" to obtain a virus to crash the game Slaughter Race and convince Vanellope to return to the arcade with him.

Naturally, his efforts spiral out of control, and the entire internet is threatened by a Ralph-based virus whose final form is, frankly, pretty nightmarish. Along the way, we learn familiar lessons about the true meaning of friendship and that you should always follow your dreams.

And that eBay is apparently still a thing.

Should you be concerned about Disney's inexorable stranglehold over popular entertainment? Probably. But at least you can see Imperial stormtroopers talking to Iron Man alongside Eeyore, Sonic the Hedgehog, and a literal host of others. That's ... something. Ralph Breaks the Internet also reunites all the Disney Princesses, with (nearly) all the original actors voicing them, for two of the movie's best scenes.

Vanellope's budding friendship with Shank is also one of the nicer touches, and the message is a good one. But this Ralph lacks the timeless quality of the original. Key plot elements like video pop-ups and Instagram-esque "hearts" (BuzzzTube is YouTube with the serial numbers not so much filed off as wiped with a chamois), managed by a character named "Yesss" (a mostly wasted Taraji P. Henson), are going to be as dated as Shrek's bullet time and Smash Mouth in a few years.

So, if you can ignore the dire implications of one conglomerate owning all your favorite characters, to say nothing of dropping a child into a Grand Theft Auto-style universe, there's lots to like here. Reilly, Silverman, Alan Tudyk (as an internet search engine), an uncredited Bill Hader (as "JP Spamley," Ralph's guide to the internet's nether regions), and the aforementioned princesses all work wondefully. And the painstaking effects and internet visualizations are also inspired. All of which should be enough to distract you and your children from Disney's impending total domination of the media landscape.

Happy Mousegiving.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar