In this follow up to 2012’s underrated Pixar gem Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph and Venellope move beyond Litwak’s Arcade and onto the internet. Gone is the nostalgia for the beloved video games of yesteryear. In its place is a world built entirely around the internet. An idea which on the surface sounds too meta, too #brand, and too soon. Today’s society has a love-hate relationship with the internet because it is a love-hate place. Yet somehow Pixar managed to bring this new world to life with a level of creativity that rivals Monsters Inc.’s scream factory and then used it perfectly to deliver lessons on friendship and insecurity.
For those looking for nostalgia, there is some still present, just not as much in the form of video games. Instead, Disney chooses to offer up its own characters and intellectual property to fill the void. With appearances from Star Wars and Marvel characters, Disney was clearly marketing itself heavily. Thankfully so, because the Disney princesses manage to steal the show with a bit of self-skewering commentary on their archetypes as well as a bit of fun that will leave some itching for an all princess spin-off.
Despite a third act climax that doesn’t quite seem to encapsulate the gravity of the themes being explored throughout the rest of the movie, the values being conveyed still come through clear. Narratively, the morals of the story are amplified due to the lack of a traditional Disney villain which allows the film to put the focus on the main source of conflict: insecurity and friendship. This is pretty heady territory for Pixar even in a post-Inside Out world, but it is done in a way that resonates with both adults and children.
Ralph Breaks the Internet was a true surprise. It over delivered after a run of underwhelming marketing and is a quality movie that feels worthy of being made as opposed to a cash grab. It joins Toy Story 3 as the only Pixar sequels that come close to rivaling their original entries.