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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a remix of a Shakespearean sonnet, so I took some inspiration from the theme and first line of Sonnet 141, mixed in to fit a friendship theme of this film.)

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In faith, I do not love you with my eyes;
You’re not the most appealing sight, you know.
Your voice can grate; you’re anything but wise;
And every chance you get, you tend to blow.
I’m not your friend for mere appearance’ sake;
If so, I would have bolted long ago.
And yet you’re first in mind when I awake
And last to fade beneath my sleep’s shadow.
It’s true to most our pairing seems bizarre,
So different by the judgment of the crowd,
Yet you as friend are dearer still by far
Than what the world approves or not out loud.
I dread the day you tire of our bond,
For I can see no life for me beyond.
___________________

MPAA rating:  PG

It’s hard to believe that Disney has resisted sequelizing its own animated films for so long. Sure, they’ve churned out plenty of substandard sequels through their separate animation subsidiaries, but Ralph Breaks the Internet is the first sequel since Rescuers Down Under to be included among Disney Animation’s official canon. Of course, this year’s Frozen 2 suggests a continuation of the sequel trend, but I was glad to find that Ralph Breaks the Internet was a funny and worthwhile continuation of the first film.

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Some have called it a Toy Story rip-off, but I still think 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph had one of the most imaginative premises of any Disney film. Ralph’s quest to be a hero may have been basic motivation, but the inventiveness of the visuals and world-building was delightful. Not surprisingly, Ralph Breaks the Internet continues that visual innovation, taking Ralph (John C. Reilly) and his best friend, the semi-annoying cart-racing princess Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), outside their arcade home and into the wide and wondrous world of the Internet, visualized as a bustling cityscape of possibilities. The same voice actors thankfully return to deepen their character’s bonds, along with the welcome new voices of Gal Gadot, Bill Hader, and Taraji P. Henson.

While Wreck-It Ralph was certainly successful, it did have some detractors who didn’t entirely buy into the story, my VC among them. Yet one thing I noticed from some critical and blogger reviews was that those who didn’t care for the first film somehow liked the second one better. Sure enough, my VC enjoyed herself with it, and I’m still trying to puzzle out why this one and not the other. I suppose it’s partially that she has never been into gaming, while her familiarity with the Internet helped her understand and enjoy the sequel’s many jokes aimed at online culture, from the intrusion of pop-up ads to the absurd allure of YouTube stardom (or BuzzTube in the film). Oh, and let’s not forget the brilliant cameos of other Disney properties, most notably the Disney Princess lineup, all but three voiced by their original actresses. Sure, it smacks of Disney showing off everything they own, but it left me with a nerdy grin in the same way Ready Player One’s mashup of pop culture did.

Beyond the jokes and setting, Ralph Breaks the Internet is different from most other animated flicks of recent years, in that its conflict is much more internal and emotional than your basic defeat-the-villain climax. Ralph’s friendship with Vanellope is first and foremost, and his own insecurity provides fuel for the finale. It’s hard to say the resolution is subtle, when it’s taken to massive, ridiculously metaphorical heights, but it’s uniquely relatable to anyone who’s been reluctant to lose a friend.

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It’s hard to say how Ralph Breaks the Internet will age, with so many of its meme-y jokes and sub-themes based in current Internet culture, which seems to change on a weekly basis. Future generations may roll their eyes at its potential datedness, but for me here and now, it was a whimsical, stunningly animated delight just like the first film. I would have liked a bit more of Fix-It Felix and Calhoun, who are basically cameos, but Ralph and Vanellope provide a sweeter conclusion than I would have guessed from a film about video game characters. (By the way, it has possibly my favorite post-credits scene ever. I guess I’m a sucker for certain memes.)

 

Rank: List-Worthy (joining the first film)

 

© 2019 S.G. Liput
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