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Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Ralph Breaks the Internet

“Mary Queen of Scots” is also new to Blu-Ray this week. 

As a fan of video games from way back when the original Atari had switches to flip, there are some things that I simply never thought about. One of those things is whether or not Zangief (voice of Rich Moore), of “Street Fighter II” video game fame, waxes in order to achieve his hair in some places but not in others look. Answer: He does.

At least that is the conclusion reached by Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) as they observe him in the main hub where all arcade game characters hang out once their shift is over. The hub is important because one day a new area is introduced to the hub. It’s called “Wi-Fi” and leads to a mysterious place called the Internet. As a result of the potential danger, it’s off limits to game characters.

As chance and fate would have it, Ralph and Vanellope very quickly have a need for this new Internet. After Ralph big-heartedly modifies Vanellope’s game to make it different and exciting for her, the frustrated real life player snaps the driving wheel controller from the arcade machine while trying to steer in the right direction. The good news is that a replacement is immediately found on Ebay. The bad news is that the arcade’s owner, Mr. Litwak (voice of Ed O’Neill), doesn’t want to spend the $200 on it. Panicking that the game might be scrapped and they’ll lose each other forever, Ralph and Vanellope venture into the Internet to find Ebay and secure the replacement controller.

Once we’re in the Internet, where most of the movie takes place, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” really shines. The information super highway is portrayed as a colored metropolis full of hustle and bustle, with major sites having big buildings and smaller sites having smaller buildings. At the center of it all in a great tower is, of course, Google. The adult in me couldn’t help but think that if this were a more grown up movie, then so, so, so, so many of those buildings would be porn sites. But since this movie is family friendly, we’ll have to use our imaginations as to how big of a building Porn Hub would have in this world.

Anyone who has surfed the Internet for any amount of time knows the pain and aggravation of pop up ads. These ads literally appear out of nowhere as the Internet avatars of real life people walk the streets. In one hilarious moment, we see how this world’s version of a pop up blocker works to put those pesky pop ups in their place.

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Ralph and Vanellope’s quest lead them to an online video game, styled somewhat after the “Grand Theft Auto” games. Here we meet Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), the owner of a prize car that could get them the money they need to buy the controller. After the zing about pop up blockers from a few scenes before, I thought the movie would take this opportunity to comment on the annoying micro-transactions so prevalent in these types of online games. Seems like a missed opportunity, but what we get instead is a very exciting chase that leads to Vanellope discovering that she likes this game more than her own, and Ralph’s worry that she’ll leave the arcade and he’ll lose her to an Internet game.

As someone who has to think critically about movies, it’s nice to have my thoughts validated by the movie itself. As Ralph devolves into his woe is me period in “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” I made a note that he’s clingy and needy. A few scenes later, this very fact—using the very same words—is pointed out to him. The movie even goes me one better and adds that he is self-destructive. This is true too—and more. Not only is he self-destructive, he is also--as the title suggests--destructive to the Internet.

I enjoyed watching the adventures of Ralph and Vanellope 2.0. There is plenty of story to sustain the movie’s one hour and 51 minutes run time, with many colorful characters and places to see. There’s also a good lesson to be learned in trusting your friends and how the bonds of a true friendship transcend whatever distance may be between them. Buy it.

More New Releases: “Mary Queen of Scots,” about Mary Stuart's attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, starring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan; and “The Parting Glass,” about a family traveling across country trying to piece together its memories of a deceased family member, starring Edward Asner, Rhys Ifans, Melissa Leo, Cynthia Nixon, Denis O'Hare, and Anna Paquin.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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