Ralph Breaks My Expectations



Disney drinks some self-awareness juice as you attempt to name every reference onscreen.

Alice Shu, Staff Writer

Walt Disney Animation Studios recently released Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to Wreck-It-Ralph, released in 2012. Last time we saw Ralph and Vanellope, they were trying to save the arcade they lived in. This time around, they’re facing something bigger: The World Wide Web. Even though it follows the standard “Disney formula”: heart, humor, amazing visuals, and, of course, princesses; something about Ralph Breaks the Internet sets it apart. Also, it doesn’t hurt that you’d be witnessing a bit of history, as this is Disney Animation Studios’s second feature-length theatrical sequel since Fantasia 2000, which was released in 1999. It’s worth taking time off to enjoy original content before we’re hit with the wave of Disney CGI remakes next year.

So why are two arcade game characters trapped in the Internet anyway? Ralph and Vanellope travel online in an attempt to save Vanellope’s go-kart game, Sugar Rush, after its wheel breaks. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough money to pay for the new wheel, so they attempt to find new ways to earn money online. As they continue to make money by themselves, their disagreements about the practicality of the Internet drives them apart. Ralph sees it as flashy and a fad, but Vanellope is enticed and wants to stay, especially after meeting Shank (voiced by Gal Gadot), a racer who she idolizes.

Their struggles provide a perfect platform to explore both the benefits and dangers of the Web, proving that anything can happen on the Internet if you know how to use it. We couldn’t predict what would happen because Disney has never tackled this type of story before, so the Internet is just as new to us as it is to Ralph. Because of this, the story can be interpreted in different ways by different people, so everyone will have a different viewing experience.

In real life, when we go online, we lose ourselves while navigating through all of its features, from clickbait to the new Google Doodle. Disney’s version of the Internet is no different. Similar to the Land of the Dead in Pixar’s Coco, Disney’s Internet seems infinite, but at the same time contained: it seems alive. If an infinite version of Tokyo existed, this would be it. Every character seems to blend in their world, which further makes Ralph and Vanellope look like they don’t belong: their bright colors and round designs contrast with the sharp, clean-cut design of the rest of the Internet.

In some ways, the background distracts from the central story. I kept on getting distracted about whatever meme or easter egg was in the background, and they provided more than a couple of laughs and surprises as I recognized almost every reference they presented, including some smart cameos by Internet stars. The focus of the film also kept shifting between the setting itself and the actual story, and story just paled in comparison to the world it takes place in.

If you’re looking for something new but nostalgic, watch Ralph Breaks the Internet to see the Internet in a different light. Although it’s not as memorable as Disney’s past hits, it’s certainly generation-defining and a must watch for any Gen-Zer who’s keen enough to recognize current trends. And even if you just want to see all the Disney Princesses together, this movie will break your expectations anyway.