The much anticipated 3D computer-animated film sequel to Disney’s 2012 film Wreck-It Ralph is finally here. Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston and featuring plenty of well-known actors like John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Taraji P. Henson and Gal Gadot the movie is slated to hit theaters Nov 21.
I admit I was very curious to see this particular movie. In most Disney movies, the message revolves around friendship, family or both. But the trailers to this one were a bit enigmatic. In fact, it left me with more questions than answers as to the reason Ralph breaks the internet and how are the Disney princesses included in the storyline.
Well, I finally got my answers after watching a pre-screening of the movie earlier this month. And I was pleasantly surprised. The plot manages to showcase essential topics such as internet safety, bullying and as well as the challenges of friendship and female empowerment in a non-threatening way. The dialogue is funny and the visuals spectacular. Wrapped in plenty of Disneyesque magic Ralph breaks the internet is a fun-filled cautionary tale appropriate for all ages.
The plot in a nutshell
This movie picks up approximately six years after the first one ends. It starts when the steering wheel controller on the Sugar Rush game console breaks.
So, in a gutsy move, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz decide to go looking for a new one on the internet.
Once there, it doesn’t take them long to realize they need money to buy the item on eBay. So, in the hope of making a quick buck, they join a violent racing game called Slaughter Race.
Things get complicated when Shank, the game’s top driver becomes Vanellope’s idol. Driven by the fear that his BFF will forget him, Ralph aided by unscrupulous hackers unleashes the ‘insecurity’ virus to destroy the game which in turn triggers a chain of unexpected events.
Conversation Starters for Parents
Qualities of a Good Friend
Unlike other Disney movies that focus on a single message like Coco or Christopher Robin, this one is more of a modern allegory with multiple messages.
The main one is friendship.
Ralph realizes Vanellope has outgrown her game and wants to move on but is reluctant to see his only friend leave. He is fearful she’ll forget him once she makes new friends. As a result, he becomes a ‘bad’’ friend even though he means well.
Only after he unleashes the virus and sees the damage done, does Ralph understand how insecurity can ruin a relationship, and only true friends show empathy and support.
Online Addiction and loss of Privacy
The movie creators make a subtle yet powerful statement when it comes to internet use. Since it has become a household commodity; it has changed the way we communicate with one another. And not always for the better.
Just like Vanellope observes the sun never sets or rises on Facebook, Snapchat and other virtual playgrounds. They are always ON, and so are we. Moreover, like Ralph, many of us are willing to let go of shame and privacy for the chance of going viral or collecting caveated likes.
But there’s more.
Ralph and Vanellope find the internet charming and enticing until they get their feelings hurt. In a heartwarming moment, Yesss the internet trendsetter and Buzztube guru advises Ralph to ‘ never look in the comment section’ after the latter gets upset at some nasty viewers comments.
Sadly, many internet users feel empowered to insult, bully even stalk others online hiding under cover of anonymity. So, as online harassment becomes more and more common it is up to the parents to teach their kids how to react should they come across the phenomenon.
Dangers of the dark web
Though depicted in a mild comic book like fashion, the movie still manages to paint a scary picture of the dark web. Land of stolen identities forged credit cards and scammed customers the dark web is a place to avoid!
Of course, this might go over the younger kids’ heads. Nonetheless, it provides parents who want to explain the dangers lurking behind the computer screen with the perfect introduction.
Female empowerment is a trendy topic, and Disney is at the forefront showcasing strong leading female characters every opportunity it gets. So, it is no surprise, that The theme of female empowerment is a recurrent theme in their latest one.
In the film, Vanellope is no longer the insecure little girl of six years ago but a bold racer ready to transition to the big league of racing game.
Her idol, Shank, a daredevil racer is street smart, decisive and always in control. Not only doesn’t she flinch in the face of danger but she seems to thrive on her chaotic lifestyle.
But it is the Disney princesses who steal the show!
On her quest to make Ralph’s meme viral Vanellope lands in the fan-based Disney portal ‘OhMyDisney’ and gets to rub elbows with all the celebrity princesses.
At first, they doubt she is a real Disney princess since she has never been kidnapped or rescued by a prince. But as the scene progresses they learn to ‘loosen up’ trading their royal gowns and restrictive corsets for comfortable loungewear.
Clever use of Disney intellectual property
My mom taught me that great people have the gift of laughing at themselves without looking ridiculous and that applies to companies too. I thought that Disney’s move to modernize its somewhat archaic princess definition and adapt it to present times was a stroke of genius.
In an unprecedented move, the company assembles their iconic princesses in one hilarious pajama party filled with witty one-liners. They even tease their Scottish counterpart about her accent.
Moreover, the royal gals get to wear some ‘ eye-catching t-shirts. Belle’s reads “BFF: Beast Friends Forever”, Cinderella’s, Elsa’s “Just Let It Go” and Snow White’s has a picture of poison apple.
Similar to Wreck- it- Ralph this movie too includes a plethora of cameos and references to Disney, Pixar, the Muppets, Lucas Film and Marvel movies. Aside from characters like Grumpy, Dumbo, Buzz and the Stormtroopers you can expect a moving homage to Marvel legend Stan Lee.
Popular culture references
Leave it to the masterminds at Disney to go to extremes to make this movie as relevant as possible. The creators cast real-life Internet influencers Colleen Ballinger Dani Fernandez, Tiffany Herrera to add authenticity to the storyline.
They also used the infectious Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up” that went viral a few years back for one of the trailers and end credits. And speaking of end credits- make sure you see them because they are hilarious!
Since the Internet is virtual it was up to the writers to ‘create’ it for the movie. And it is marvelous. Vividly colored and ever-expanding viewers get to see real companies like Amazon, Snapchat and Pinterest. But of course, there are also plenty of fake ones too like Buzztube.
The internet scenes are filled with funny jokes and hints that will appeal to older kids and adults. The bustling metropolis is filled with skyscrapers next to their ‘clouds’. Twitter is a tree filled with tweeting birds ( all blue, of course!) And Google is eerily similar to the Empire State Building towering over everyone while attacked by the insecurity virus shaped as what else but a King Kong look alike.
Overall, the movie is a joy to watch.
Walt Disney Animation managed to create a fun and funny family friendly movie that is also a useful teaching tool. It is appropriate for kids all ages with no foul language or violence. The only scary scene is when the giant Ralph virus destroys some buildings. Furthermore, at 112 min long the movie is on the short side which means that even antsy kids will be able to watch and enjoy it.
The movie isn’t loud per se but you should bring a set of headphones for noise sensitive kids
Unlike other Disney sequels, you don’t HAVE TO see the first installment. But it is a fun watch.
According to its creators, the movie focuses on feelings kids struggle with; like losing friends and bullying which will resonate with many kids on the spectrum.
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Ralph Breaks the Internet hits theaters Nov. 21, 2018.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Disclaimer: Special thanks to Disney Studios for hosting me on the press junket event. My opinions are my own and cannot be influenced in any way