Ralph Breaks The Internet ***

It’s too long and not funny enough, but the visuals and creativity offer much to be admired.  

Is it worth $10? Yes  

“Ralph Breaks The Internet” is full of bold imagination, bright colors and wonderful messages. It’s a movie that approaches its subject matter with inquisitive reverence, daring to ask about the Internet, “what would that actually look like?” and then answering the question(s) in wonderfully inventive ways. This is “Inside Out”-level animated excellence here, and it’s a marvelous visceral pleasure. It’s not a perfect movie – it needs more laughs, and runs tediously long at 112 minutes – but oh is it a treat for the eyes.

Ralph (John C. Reilly), heretofore best known as a wrecker of arcade games, is still the same big loveable doof he was in “Wreck It Ralph” (2012). He and friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) hang out all night inside the power strip that gives life to the games in Litwak’s Arcade. All is well in their world until something new is plugged in: A Wi-Fi router. With Vanellope’s game broken and Litwak wanting to throw it away rather than fix it, Ralph and Vanellope venture inside the Internet to find the replacement part on ebay.

Speaking of ebay, it’s not the only Web site mentioned by name here, bringing familiarity to kids and the question of “How much did they make from product placement?” to discerning adults. Regardless, it’s part of the fun, as are playful moments with viral videos and the dangers of online comments.

Once inside the Internet, various complications abound. Ralph and Vanellope don’t understand how bidding on ebay works, so they need money. They encounter KnowsMore (Alan Tudyk), a search bar who keeps interrupting them, Shank (Gal Gadot), a bad girl who loves to drive and feels straight out of a “Fast and Furious” movie, and Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), the woman who decides what’s popular online (hint: it’s always changing!).

Thematically, directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore’s film is rich and meaningful. The friendship between Vanellope and Ralph takes center stage, and within that comes what it means to be a true friend – great stuff for kids to learn. Deeper than that, though, is a man (Ralph) not wanting to let his young female friend (Vanellope) pursue what she feels will make her happy. This is a message to fathers and daughters, and also perhaps to society as a whole to listen to women, especially girls, and encourage them to chase their version of happiness. The Disney princesses, who are delightfully self-aware in one of the film’s best sequences, further emphasize this point.

Isn’t it great what animation can do? Sure live action movies can make anything come alive with visual effects, but the folks at Disney Animation (“Frozen,” “Zootopia”) have outdone themselves here in terms of color palette and pure imagination. See it, and try to enjoy it through the eyes of the eight year-old you once were.

Did you know?
Gal Gadot became a star in 2009 when she played Gisele in “Fast & Furious,” the fourth film of that franchise.

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