Wreck It Ralph was already a franchise movie since it incorporated all the classic video game franchises. Now that it has its own sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet connects to even more franchises, but also suffers from sequelitis, struggling to find a theme as strong as the first.
Ralph (John C. Reilly) is still having fun hanging out in other games at night while the arcade is closed. When he and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) enter the Internet they connect with even more franchises. Franchise businesses, franchise characters, franchises made up in the Wreckitverse. The Oh My Disney site is a cornucopia of franchise jokes.
The satire of the internet is on point. It’s not the first time the internet has been depicted as a living city, but acting out instant activities like search engines and eBay bids is good absurd satire. There’s a Chewbacca Mom joke and I’d already forgotten about her from years ago. When Ralph finds the comment section, they’re very Disneyfied comments but best to ease kids into that.
Ralph starts making viral videos, at least as much as Disney kids will understand it. The idea that likes only transfer into minimal money is true. Frankly, $43 is a fantasy. That the plan works is a vast oversimplification but as a spoof of all the things Ralph could do online, it’s fine. The timeframe is way off though. Ralph has eight hours to pay for a replacement steering wheel. He goes viral in three.
She’s tired of the Sugar Rush routine, so the internet opens up new possibilities for her. Then she meets the Disney princesses who suggest something that’s doesn’t really apply to her. Then that other thing is what she wants.
Reconciling a friendship when one friend wants conflicting things is a mature, poignant theme. It’s just too unfocused in the narrative of Ralph Breaks the Internet. They don’t even pinpoint that the open world of a MMORPG is what Vanellope wants until late in the movie. Plus, by encouraging her to stay in her place in Sugar Rush, Ralph has become the people who told him he’d never be anything but destructive. A relevant turnabout, but one the film ignores for a quick fix resolution.
Plus, why does Ralph hate Slaughter Lane? He breaks stuff for a living. This is a whole world of stuff to break. They could explore it together.
The plot just keeps making up things that happen. They’re all good ideas, like the Ralph clones, but they’re very episodic. The solution to the crisis is random too. It feels like they didn’t figure out Vanellope’s Journey, let alone Ralph’s, until it was too late to redo the first act.
If Ralph Breaks the Internet were just about satirizing the Internet, that would be fine. It wouldn’t resonate as deeply as the first, but with a weak emotional story it resonates even less. The princess subplot alone makes it worth the movie existing, but the Wreck It Ralph franchise will have to be one with a weaker part two for which part three will redeem itself.