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Wreck It Ralph Breaks the Internet

This past weekend, I was beyond excited to bear witness to Ralph Breaks the Internet, the next installment in the Wreck it Ralph franchise. After absorbing various trailers filled with feisty Disney Princesses (probably the real reason I forced my boyfriend and I to get tickets, sorry Ralph) and funny take on various social medias, I was so ready to grab my ticket and cheer on Ralph and Vanellope. I was hopeful that Ralph Breaks the Internet would carry over the same charm and self-awareness as its predecessors, but like most sequels, the film did not live up to its initial installment.

Spoilers ahead! Be warned!

While Ralph Breaks the Internet can be charming at times, featuring funny moments such as Ralph and Vanellope’s interaction with the autofill owl KnowsMore and their encounters with popup adds, it’s the movie’s central plot—focused on the friendship between Ralph and Vanellope—which really let me down.

For starters, Vanellope is Ralph’s only friend. While it’s totally fine to have a best friend, I think it’s crazy that despite making friends with the video game characters of the last movie, Ralph doesn’t make any effort to interact with anyone other than Vanellope. He waits in the local pub for Vanellope to appear, even buying her a drink in her absence in hopes she’ll appear. Like, I understand wanting to spend time with someone, but was I the only one who was turned off by Ralph’s neediness? Like c’mon, get some hobbies, man. Ralph eventually hands the drink over to his work partner, Felix, but exits the bar in search of Vanellope instead of conversing with the friend who is right in front of him!!

Eventually Ralph and Vanellope meet up, and Vanellope introduces the conflict of the film: her discontent with the repetition of her game which clashes with Ralph’s expectations of their everlasting never-changing relationship. While the film doesn’t act like it is out of the ordinary, Ralph leaves his game during the day to create a new pathway for Vanellope to make her game more interesting. I’ll admit it’s been a few years since I watched the first movie, but isn’t playing Fix It Felix like Ralph’s job? Are there back up Ralphs hiding somewhere in case a kid comes while actual Ralph is putzing around Vanellope’s game? Unless there are, this also means Ralph is abandoning his responsibilities for Vanellope’s happiness which is 100% not okay or healthy. When her game breaks as a result of his actions, Ralph doesn’t appear apologetic or overly distraught at the displacement of the characters who live in Vanellope’s racing game. Instead, his focus is once again on Vanellope and how to fix the game that keeps Vanellope close to him.

Once Ralph and Vanellope actually reach the realm of the internet, their relationship remains cringy as Ralph struggles to treat Vanellope as an independent individual. While Vanellope could have used her racing skills to win a car, thus giving them enough money to fix the game, Ralph shuts down the effort after one go. In this moment, Ralph undermines Vanellope’s capabilities and reigns control over her behaviors. Eventually, after a run in with Disney Princesses, Vanellope decides to return to the dangerous racing game, excited to try challenging courses that her old game was lacking. Ralph overhears Vanellope confess to one of the other racers that she would like to stay AND BECOMES SO JEALOUS HE DECIDES TO PUT A BUG IN THE GAME. If Ralph trying to destroy the very thing Vanellope loves so that she will give more attention to him is not the most heinous thing you’ve heard, I don’t know what is.

Basically Vanellope almost dies, the game is almost destroyed, and then the bug attaches to Ralph’s insecurities and copies the code, creating more and more Ralphs all with the desire to be Vanellope’s best friend. The Ralphs begin to chase her and Ralph Breaks the Internet morphs from a bad sequel to a thing from my nightmares. Yeah, Ralph and Vanellope are video game characters and have probably been alive for the same number of decades, but how could the producers at Disney think hundreds of men chasing a little girl was a good visual? The original Ralph realizes what a bad friend he’s become (um, I think bad is an understatement, Ralph) and tries to stop his clones, who have massed together to form one giant Ralph. Is anyone else terrified, or is that just me? Ralph gives some speech to his giant self about letting Vanellope go, curing Ralph’s insecurities and thus destroying the clones—I believe this makes Vanellope plummet to the ground from her perch in giant Ralph’s hand? I can’t remember. What’s important is that Vanellope forgives him. And decides to share Ralph’s “my hero” necklace from last movie when it splits in two (although can we talk about how Ralph chases after the necklace—the inanimate object— instead of having a real conversation with Vanellope—the person he is supposed to care about—when it breaks in this movie?)

It’s not to say everything about Ralph Breaks the Internet is bad. Gal Gadot voices a badass female driver in Vanellope’s new favorite racing game, exposing viewers to an awesome female friendship full of cool car shots and women supporting women. Yes, another female character who runs one of the largest video sharing sites, shows women being in places of power. Team Disney also supplied viewers with a wonderful take on the internet, creating a whole new visual world to describe what we do in a few taps on our phone. But overall, Ralph broke this movie for me because of his destructive behavior and Vanellope’s ready forgiveness. If I were you, I would wait it out a couple of months, and wait for the Disney Princess clips to come out on YouTube, and rewatch Wreck it Ralph to get your fill of Ralph and Vanellope before Ralph’s behaviors wreck the whole franchise completely.      

Lily is a Junior English major at Gustavus Adolphus who loves love, supporting those around her, writing creatively, and using oxford commas. In her spare time, one might find her with a book or watching YouTube videos way too late at night.
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