‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ is a satisfying and surprisingly profound sequel

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Six years after the first “Wreck-It Ralph” surprised audiences with its heart and humor, Disney attempts to break their notorious bad sequel curse with “Ralph Breaks the Internet”. While I honestly cannot say that it is better than the original, “Ralph Breaks the  ” surpassed all of my expectations and cemented itself as a well thought-out and formidable continuation to a modern animated classic.

Revisiting the same cast of colorful characters featured in the first film, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” follows Ralph and his pint-sized best friend Vanellope as they journey across the internet in search of a replacement part for Vanellope’s racing game ‘Sugar Rush’. Though I was initially wary of the seemingly gimmicky premise of a movie taking place in the internet ( I will never truly recover from the traumatic experience that was “The Emoji Movie”), “Ralph Breaks the Internet” approaches the web from a very clever and interesting angle.

Though it is difficult to give concrete examples of how the movie handles internet slang and concepts without delving into spoiler territory, the way in which the concepts are handled not only feels fresh and innovative but also purposeful from a narrative standpoint. Instead of just being referential jokes and throwaway one-liners, the internet-specific details serve as plot points, which means that the setting feels less like a shtick and more of a necessary way to move the plot along.

The plot, however, is not the highlight of this film. Although it is clever, the real meat of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is in its character relationships and emotional narrative. Instead of using characters for the sole purpose of comedy, the movie transforms Ralph and Vanellope’s odd-couple dynamic into the central core of the film. For a movie aimed at children, I was surprised at how grown-up it’s emotional message was. While “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is certainly aimed towards kids, I think that viewers of any age will be able to appreciate the lesson that Ralph and Vanellope learn.

However, when the movie is not spending time developing an emotional backbone or focusing on its clever premise, it tends to suffer. I found the scenes with Gal Gadot’s “Shank” to be a general low point in the film. For a character all about speed, she sure did slow down the film’s momentum. One of the many great things about the original “Wreck-It Ralph” was the colorful and interesting characters, and perhaps the greatest flaw of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is that the writers feel the need to add more, less interesting characters instead of using the great ones it already has. For example, instead of spending time with Fix-It Felix or Sergeant Calhoun, we got an entire plot line surrounding the character “Yesss”, who was not nearly as gratifying as her name implies. The scene where Vanellope enters the “Oh My Disney” website will also be divisive with viewers. While I found it for the most part entertaining and clever, it does feel a little forced in the grand scheme of things, and it does not do much for the movie in terms of plot. However, for eagle-eyed viewers or Disney fanatics, it is a veritable “Where’s Waldo” of easter eggs and Disney references.

With the exception of the new, weaker characters, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” managed to avoid falling victim to many of the typical sequel problems. With an engaging, unique premise and a script chock full of clever humor, it is definitely a sequel worthy of the original.