Feb 5, 2019
Well, you can’t have a 400th episode without a 401st. We’re welcoming back Ryan L. Terry for another review, this time with one of the Best Animated Film contenders that will fall to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse” (Episode #381). Of course, that’s just my opinion. We’ll find out at the 91stAcademy Awards on February 24th. When you’re done with this episode, check out our other Oscar nominee reviews, either by searching on #Oscars2019 or using the Oscars 2019 blog tag at onemoviepunch.com.
In the meantime, here’s Ryan’s promo, followed by the review. Big shout out to Ryan this episode. Thanks for helping the podcast reach 400 episodes, and here’s to 400 more!
This is Ryan L. Terry once again for another movie review here on One Movie Punch. To join the conversation with me and the rest of hashtag film twitter, you can connect with me @RLTerry1 on Twitter and follow my blog at RLTerryReelView.comthats REEL with two Es. Now, time to surf the web with Ralph.
Today’s movie is “Ralph Breaks the Internet” (2018) by Walt Disney Pictures, the animated film directed by Phil Johnston and Rich Moore, written for the screen by Johnston and Pamela Ribon. Some movies lack true depth, but maintain a high degree of entertainment value, and this is one of those.
Return to the brightly colorful animated world of Ralph and Vanellope for a highspeed adventure that takes them from the 8bit world of 80s video games to the immersive world of a visualized, stylized internet. Video game bad guy Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz must risk it all by traveling to the World Wide Web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope's video game, "Sugar Rush." In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the Internet -- the Netizens – to help navigate their way, including an entrepreneur named Yesss, who is the head algorithm and the heart and soul of trend-making site BuzzzTube. If it’s gone viral on the internet, then you’ll likely find it in this movie. Much like the first film, this sequel relies heavily upon nostalgia and familiarity with pop culture more than it does a strong narrative. All too often, it’s more concerned with making you laugh than it is delivering a meaningful narrative. However, no mistaking it, you’ll have a fun time watching this film. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” took what “The Emoji Movie” attempted to do, but failed, and delivered a heartwarming story that comments on our usage of and fascination with the internet. What we see in terms of abstracts or constructs, this film creatively translates that which only exists in 0s and 1s into something far more tangible. For all that “Ralph Breaks the Internet” did right, and that constitutes a lot aesthetically, it appears as though the writers were far more concerned with cramming every bit of Disney, pop culture, and digital media into the movie than developing a compelling story. And that was the part that I found obnoxious: the amount of time we spent on the Disney brands. It became self-serving instead of plot-serving.
Central to this film are the (1) theme of friendship (2) one’s identity with home or work and (3) commentary on one’s insecurities. A nice trifecta of themes and concepts upon which to build the plot. But there is something missing. Something that is a fundamental to any screenplay. And that is a clearly defined opposition to the goal represented or manifested by a character. In other words, there lacks a “villain” in this story. The villain in this story is the friendship shared by Ralph and Vanellope. Suffice it to say, it is not a requirement to have a physical villain (or more precisely, a character of opposition), but when abstracts, constructs, or concepts are the villain, it is advisable to select a character from the story to represent the true enemy. Take “Jaws” for example. The villain is NOT the shark; it is the folly of man. And in order to visualize this opposition, the screenplay uses the character of the mayor to personify it. Looking at “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, we go nearly the entire movie before we have a true character of opposition. A central character is only as interesting as the character of opposition. Sometimes, the character of opposition is even more interesting than the central character.
Two of the film’s themes are manifested in Ralph. The themes of personal/interpersonal insecurities and evolution of friendship are witnessed in the actions of Ralph and Vanellope, but Ralph in particular. Audiences of all ages easily identify with him because they can observe traits, characteristics, and idiosyncrasies that have likely been experienced by each and every member of the audience at one time or another. How many of us do not depend on some sort of external validation in order for us to feel confident in what we do, what we wear, or where we go? We empathize with Ralph when his demonstrably gentle, generous soul gives way to self-destructive behaviors that form a wedge in the friendship between him and Vanellope. And that leads us into the third main theme of this film, and that is the theme of the evolution of friendship. There is no questioning the strength and loyalty of the six year-long friendship between Ralph and Vanellope. There have been many movies that comment on the state of or evolution of our best friendships, but none quite so creative as this one. That being said, this uplifting movie accomplished what other animated films attempted, making what users do on the internet interesting. Much in the same way that “Searching” brilliantly captured screen-life, Ralph delivers a sensory explosion of what a visualization of the internet may look like. But who would’ve known that we were all POP Vinyls???
Despite the inundation of recognizable brands and incessant, obnoxious Disney product placement, Ralph Breaks the Internet is an entertaining animated movie that finds a way through the underwhelming plot and constant reminders that we are in a visualized world of the internet into our hearts.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88% (FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 7.0/10
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” (2018) is rated PG and is available wherever you get your Blu-rays and rent movies!