Ralph Breaks the Internet

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Ralph Breaks the Internet Movie Poster Image
Colorful, clever sequel tackles complexity of online world.
  • PG
  • 2018
  • 112 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids are introduced to tech and social media concepts/terms like game code, consoles, and avatars, as well as virus, anti-virus, the dark web, viral marketing, and more. They'll also hear the "first rule of the internet": Never read the comments.

Positive Messages

Clear themes of empathy, loyalty, courage, and generosity. Best friends can still be close and support each other without having the same dreams and goals; all friendships change, but the good ones stronger because of it. There's a difference between not being someone's friend and acting like a bad friend. It's important to learn who you are independent from others/your best friends. As in the original, themes of inclusivity/exclusivity and selflessness/selfishness are woven throughout the story, as are teamwork, perseverance, and self-control. The movie explores the nature of internet fame and the pursuit of likes/viral success, raising questions about what really matters in life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although they can both be insecure and make mistakes, Ralph and Vanellope are ultimately devoted, selfless best friends who want the best for each other. Vanellope is brave, clever, talented, and determined. Ralph is strong, courageous, heroic, and loyal. Shank has a tough-as-nails reputation but is also kind and wise. Felix and Calhoun are a strong, loving couple who take care of those who need help.

Violence & Scariness

Slaughter Race is a Grand Theft Auto-esque racing game that's full of scares, thrills and obstacles, including characters who throw axes and shoot fire, creepy clowns, random predators, and a crew of dangerously fast drivers. Expect lots of stunts, jumps, and crashes (same for Sugar Rush, though that has a much cuter look). When an insecurity virus is set loose, it turns into a menacing, King Kong-like monster that wreaks destruction and almost envelops Ralph and Vanellope. Game characters run for their lives when it becomes clear their game is about to be unplugged, leaving them "gameless." A nasty virus spreads through a game; when the software update begins, two characters must flee before they're permanently erased. Double Dan's little brother might scare very young/sensitive viewers. The princesses brandish weapons at Vanellope (arrow, pan, shoe, etc.) Ralph and Vanellope argue and are sad/angry in parts of the story.

Sexy Stuff

A couple of game characters wear tight/revealing costumes/uniforms (one male wrestler wears only his underwear, a female warrior wears a skin-tight but full-coverage outfit, etc.). Married game characters embrace.

Language

Affectionate name-calling ("stench breath," "stink brain"), more cutting insults ("needy," "clingy," "selfish," "ugly," "loser," "useless," "hobo"), and occasional potty humor ("doody/duty" joke, "farting is such sweet sorrow"). Also "butt," "kick your butt," "butt load," "dummy," "stupid," "hate," "gosh dang it," "good lord," "son of a gun," 'heck," "bull." A character says "mother Hubbard!" Ralph reads some hateful internet comments out loud: "I hate him," "he's the worst," etc.

Consumerism

This time around, it's not just iconic video game characters like Sonic and Pac-Man who make appearances. It's also the logos and brands virtually all of today's major internet companies, from eBay, which plays an important part in the story, to Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, BuzzFeed, Snapchat, Amazon, IMDB, Fandango, National Geographic, Purple, Twitter, and many more. Parent company Disney is very well represented, too: A Disney website and the Disney princesses show up in the movie, as do Star Wars and Marvel logos/characters. Off camera, there's also a lot of merchandise tied in to the movie: an app game, a video game, apparel, toys, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene, a game character has a martini glass and thinks a candy sourball is an oversized olive. A few scenes take place in a game called Tappers, in which characters drink root beer from beer mugs at a bar. (Felix downs one like a real drink at one point.) There's a wine store in Slaughter Race.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ralph Breaks the Internet -- the sequel to Disney's hit video-game comedy Wreck-It Ralph -- tells a strong friendship story within its framework of video game characters, popular websites, and social media platforms. It will appeal to viewers of all ages, but the themes and messages (particularly those about the nature of online life and internet fame) are best suited to tweens and up. Several scenes take place inside a Grand Theft Auto-esque driving game called Slaughter Race that's full of weapons, creepy clowns, and lots of danger, stunts, and crashes. Other scary moments/characters include a creepy Dark Web kingpin and an out-of-control insecurity virus that turns into a giant monster and threatens everything in its path, including Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). Expect some potty humor/language ("butt," "doody") and insults ("stink brain," "dummy," "stupid," etc.), as well as a ton of featured tech logos and brands, from eBay and Google to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Parent company Disney also has a big presence, specifically the Disney princesses, who play a role in the story. The movie fully explores how the internet can be both wonderful and terrible and has strong themes of empathy, courage, perseverance, and self-control.

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What's the story?

RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET -- the sequel to Disney's 2012 video-game adventure Wreck-It Ralph -- takes place a few years after the events of the original. Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is completely happy with his daily routine: starring all day in his game at a throwback arcade and then hanging out all night with Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). But risk-taking Vanellope yearns for change, so Ralph goes into her game, Sugar Rush, to change the course ... which leads to disaster when the game's external controls break. Without an easy way to replace the vintage game part, Sugar Rush gets unplugged, leaving Vanellope and all her game-mates homeless. Feeling responsible, Ralph and Vanellope hatch a plan to go online and find a replacement controller. But once they're online, Ralph and Vanellope quickly find themselves in over their heads and must scramble to find a way to pay for the replacement part and save Sugar Rush. They try a couple of get-rich-quick schemes -- from winning online-game prizes they can sell to creating viral videos. Will it be enough?

Is it any good?

Disney's charming, insightful sequel shines a light on the wonders and horrors of the internet, from the camaraderie of sharing silly viral videos to the vicious nature of social media comments. Reilly and Silverman continue to sell the close friendship between a misunderstood video game villain and a glitch-prone young speedster. Their new adventure thrusts the BFFs into the wilds of the web; adults, even more than kids, will enjoy the movie's jokes and references to sites and internet phenomena that are all too relatable. In one key subplot, Vanellope and Ralph enter Slaughter Race, a gritty, dangerous online multiplayer racing game in which they encounter the game's star racer, Shank (Gal Gadot), whose car Vanellope hopes to steal and sell. Instead, she feels utterly, unexpectedly at home with Shank and her crew. Gadot is fabulously cast as the fierce, wise crew boss.

Another major, meta cameo has Vanellope infiltrating Disney's own social site in pursuit of more likes for Ralph's viral videos. She ends up meeting all of the Disney princesses (including the oft-overlooked Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, and Jasmine!), voiced mostly by their original actors. Since Vanellope is also a princess, the ladies have a hilarious conversation about what it means to be a princess (magical abilities, dead parent(s), important water, curses, and big, strong men). The sequence is surprisingly funny and layered, and the princesses all end up changing into loungewear to follow Vanellope's comfortable hoodie chic. As in the first movie, the theme of identity is important to Ralph Breaks the Internet, as is the meaning and nature of friendship and what it means to follow your dreams -- and support those you love as they follow their own passions. Although the thought of any sequel usually seems unnecessary, here the filmmakers work magic with a script full of heart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way the internet is portrayed in Ralph Breaks the Internet. What is the movie saying about the pursuit of "likes" and viral fame?

  • What do Ralph and Vanellope learn about the pitfalls of spending money -- and trying to make money -- online? What kinds of marketing should kids look out for on the internet?

  • What do you think of Yesss' comments to Ralph that the internet can be horrible ("never read the comments") but also great. Do you agree? What examples can you think of on both sides?

  • What did you think about the way the Disney princesses are portrayed in the movie? What about their interactions with Vanellope rings true about the common themes in princess movies? Did it make you see their stories in a new light?

  • What is the movie's message about friendship? Do best friends have to do everything together to really be best friends? What are Ralph and Vanellope's strengths as friends? Weaknesses?

Movie details

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