Wreck it Ralph surprised a lot of people when it was released in 2012. Sure it was full of references and cameos from familiar video game characters, but that is not all the film was. There was genuine heart and a great message of friendship at the core of that film, and both Sarah Silverman and John C. Reilly turned in stellar vocal work. Along with some gorgeous animation, a sequel seemed inevitable. It took awhile, but here we are.
Ralph Breaks the Internet picks up with Ralph and Vanellope living the good life in the arcade, They get up, play their games, go to Tapper's for a nightcap, and then do it all again day after day. This is perfect for Ralph, but is making Vanellope miserable. After trying to help get her out of funk, Ralph's actions cause Sugar Rush to break. Seeing that the only way to fix the game and stop it from being unplugged, the pair head into the internet. From here, they encounter all kinds of people you will recognize and hilarity ensues. Vanellope becomes enamored with a free-play racing game called Slaughter Race, and the games signature racer Shank (Gal Gadot), and had to decide if she wants to keep living a miserable existence or risk it all and stay behind in the game. That is, until Ralph gets involved yet again. Keeping it vague on purpose here for you all.
Sadly, Ralph Breaks the Internet is completely uneven almost from the start. The sense of discovery that was welcomed in the original is gone completely. It feels like the characters onscreen are reading cue cards off camera. Multiple times while watching, the feeling that you are watching a few short films stitched together by some referential humor cannot be shaken. A lot of this is the fault of a completely all over the place script. It is so disappointing that this sequel relies so heavily on other IP instead of Ralph and Vanellope themselves. Once we got out of the arcade setting in the first film and into Sugar Rush, we got a ton of character and relationship development between not only the main characters, but the background people as well. There is none of that here. By the time we do start to get anywhere with Ralph and Vanellope confronting each other about things, it is too little too late. They try so hard to tackle issues like abandonment, loyalty, and ego, but it all falls flat in its face.
It all builds to one of the most non-sensical endings to a film in awhile. One can imagine them writing team sitting in a room and just shrugging at each other when they had to think of an ending. Not much of it makes sense at all, and it drags on forever. The entire film has giant pacing issues, making it feel much longer than its already way too long runtime.
Its not all bad. The much-hyped Disney Princess scene is a complete hoot. A shame that they told us it was there in the first place, that would have been a hell of a surprise. Most of the jokes land, especially when Ralph becomes the equivalent of a YouTube star. All of the voice talent brings their A game, with some of them even getting to show off their pipes in an original song. Both of the credits scenes are pretty great too. Yes, there is two, so make sure you stay until the end.
None of that is enough to pretend that this is just not as fun or imaginative as the first. The best word to describe Ralph Breaks the Internet is frustration. This should have been so much better than it is. Kids will love it, but for adults you will feel the length and by the end will wonder if this should be our last trip to the arcade.