Disney has an alarmingly high batting average when it comes to films. This year alone has seen the release of Coco and The Incredibles 2 (with Pixar) and now comes this, a sequel to the beloved 2012 release Wreck-It Ralph.
Disney have only really recently embraced theatrically releasing sequels. Showing a lot of restraint for a Hollywood studio, but in their shoes, I’d do the same. Many of their films make up the foundations of childhood nostalgia, and the older their customers get, the more unforgiving they get. Luckily, Disney is one of the few entities that also handle their sequels with care (theatrically released ones anyway, the less said about their straight-to-video sequels of the late 90’s, early 00’s, the better.)
All this being said, Wreck-It Ralph is a great display of Disney moving with the times, and altering their output slightly, but the question remains, do they ramp up this self-awareness to unprecedented levels? Or just hit that nostalgia sweet spot?
Six years after the events of Wreck-It Ralph, the arcade that Ralph, Vanellope and their friends live in gets Wi-Fi installed, this plants the seed for the two best friends to take an odyssey across the world wide web, where Vanellope must decide where her dreams lay.
Every new sequel undertaken by Disney seems like a new opportunity to finally trip up, and reveal themselves as just as clueless as any-one else, thankfully, this is not that time.
Ralph Breaks the Internet hits every note you wanted coming back a second time round from the first adventure, and a few you didn’t know you wanted until you had it. It’s also the film that probably made me laugh the most all year, which is never a bad thing, if anything it’s a great sign that a Disney animated film is smart and funny enough to tickle the funny bone of jaded twenty-somethings.
This is probably the most self-aware Disney has ever been (and probably ever will be be again.) Not in the cringe-worthy way certain mainstream films mock popular culture, but by holding a mirror up to Disney’s characters and practices, while openly mocking them, in a way which just shows the obvious love the writers and directors have for the source material. (Incidentally, the princess sequence teased by the trailer is ten-times as good on screen.)
So onto the cast; John C Reilly once again leads the way as Ralph. Reilly is a great example of an underrated actor, quietly going about his career, gaining admirers, without needing the media profile of his peers. While on the surface, his career is mostly preoccupied with his comedic roles, he’s proven himself an extremely capable dramatic actor, none of which matter here, what does matter is the way he can deliver lines through an animated character that make us sympathise with his character, while portraying the large faults his character has, that was the main draw of the first movie for me. The fact that at heart, Ralph is that guy overlooked by everyone around him, but never does himself any favours when he goes about trying to prove them wrong, it was heart-warming before, and it still is now.
Then, there’s Sarah Silverman, who I’m not a huge fan of, in fact, I found Vanellope to be more irritating than cute first time around, I think she’s probably been told to tone it down a bit for the sequel and she does, which makes for a much more enjoyable character and performance. There’s a moment of Vanellope’s that is the closest the film comes to a film-stealing scene, which I won’t spoil, but suffice to say it’s worth seeing.
Not that I don’t have problems, I do, not huge ones, but problems nonetheless. It sometimes feels as though we’re re-tracing the steps of the first film, the example I gave of Ralph’s character a few paragraphs ago might be endearing to watch, but re-tracing the same character moments seem like a loss of momentum, also, while some of the internet representation in the film is funny now, it’s the kind of thing that won’t age well, but frankly, if that’s a films biggest fault, then it’s not exactly the end of the world.
In conclusion, this film is exactly what you’d expect from Disney, moments of genuinely emotional storytelling mixed with some hilarious jokes, characters and references, with Disney’s as-always flawless animation style, and they’ve got another massive success on their hands.