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"RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET"
(2018) (voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman) (PG)


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QUICK TAKE:
Computer Animated Comedy: Two arcade game characters travel through the Internet in search of a replacement steering wheel that will keep one's broken game from being junked.
PLOT:
Having met a number of years ago, arcade game characters Wreck-It Ralph (voice of JOHN C. REILLY) and Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of SARAH SILVERMAN) are best friends. Yet, while Ralph is content playing the villain in his building-wrecking game -- that features Fix-It Felix (voice of JACK McBRAYER) who's now married to Sergeant Calhoun (voice of JANE LYNCH) -- and then hanging out with Vanellope, she's grown tired of the repetitiveness of her Candy Rush game and yearns for something new and different.

She gets the chance when she and Ralph venture for the first time ever -- thanks to their arcade finally getting wifi installed -- into the Internet. They do so since the steering wheel controller on Vanellope's game has broken and the game has been shut down, thus displacing her and the rest of the characters. With word that the game is going to be junked, Ralph has heard about a replacement steering wheel on something called eBay and thus he and Vanellope venture onto the Web.

When they accidentally bid way too much for that replacement and don't have any money, they realize they have to earn cash and fast. After they hear that stealing a race car from an online, post-apocalyptic racing game called Slaughter Race will get them the amount they need, they head into that game. But its main character, Shank (voice of GAL GADOT), isn't going to give that up without a chase. But she likes Vanellope's spunk and racing abilities and becomes something of a big sister figure to her.

But still in need of money, she and Ralph try to earn that before it's too late, including hoping to get into the good graces of Yesss (voice of TARAJI P. HENSON), an algorithm who determines what videos will be trending and thus making money on BuzzTube.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
There's the old saying that "the devil is in the details," and at its most basic definition, that means that something that appears easy to accomplish at first glance or as a flight of fancy is likely much more complicated and difficult to pull off based on what actually has to be done. One can say, "I'm going to a build my dream house," but the "devil" there is all of the planning, permits, know-how, supplies, labor, and money needed to pull that off.

The same obviously holds true for making movies. One can say "I'm gonna make a movie about what arcade game characters are like off-screen when they're not doing their job," but we all know doing so will take a tremendous amount of work on a myriad of fronts to bring that to fruition.

Thankfully, writers Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee, director Rich Moore and a slew of other talented people and studio folk pulled off just that with 2012's "Wreck-It Ralph," a highly imaginative and decidedly entertaining offering from Disney that came off like a Pixar offering of old (especially due to being something of a kissing cinematic cousin to the equally delightful "Toy Story" movies).

At the conclusion of that film, I wished I could have inserted another quarter to keep the fun going, and I now get the chance with that film's sequel, "Ralph Breaks the Internet." As was the case with the first film, the devil might be in those details, but so is the fun and potential for magic, and like its predecessor, this offering is overflowing with both.

With time having passed since the closing credits of the first installment, our two main characters -- Ralph (voiced by a returning John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman, with a voice made for this character) -- are now best friends and enjoy each other's company. Yet, while Ralph is complacent is such a lifestyle, Vanellope longs for something different and new.

Accordingly, like any good friend who will go above and beyond, Ralph decides to create a new, off-road track for her in her arcade game Candy Crush. Unfortunately, she and a girl who's playing the arcade game end up competing for control of the car and the game's steering wheel breaks. With the game being old and the replacement part being costly, the arcade's owner pulls the plug, with Vanellope and others barely getting out just in time.

Having learned that the owner recently installed something called "wifi," Ralph decides they should use that and travel into the Internet to buy a replacement part before the game is junked. He and Vanellope then travel there and that's when the fun details and magic start to ooze forth in delightful and entertaining ways.

To avoid giving away any of the specific details, let's just say the reimagining of everyday Internet elements, websites and such as characters and places is a blast to behold. And when our characters end up over on the Disney domain and Vanellope has an encounter with most if not all of the Mouse House's princesses from over the years, let's just say it might be the most inspired bit of creativity you'll see in any film all year.

Beyond that, our main characters' plight of needing a lot of money to pay off their eBay bid for the replacement steering wheel leads them into a post-apocalyptic racing game known as Slaughter Race where its main character, Shank (voiced by Gal Gadot), is used to outside characters (the avatars of real-life people playing the game) showing up and trying to steal her coveted sports car.

That provides for the action moments -- courtesy of writer/director Phil Johnston, co-director Rich Moore and co-writer Pamela Ribon -- to complement the funny and inspired bits. There are also deeper thematic elements about friendship and what it means to give friends freedom to do their thing, even if it means spending less time together and maybe not seeing each other for a long time (which, sadly, is how life usually transitions from childhood into being an adult where everyone is busy and time passes by).

The big action spectacle conclusion stems from that, and while I found it to be the weakest and least inspired part of the film, it still works and everything concludes with some nice touches that should leave a smile on your face, a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat. All of which means the devilish details are more than worth it when the result is something like the delightful, highly imaginative and creative "Ralph Breaks the Internet." It rates as a 7 out of 10.




Reviewed November 5, 2018 / Posted November 21, 2018


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