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Ralph Breaks the Internet Astutely Skewers Online Culture

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Ralph Breaks the Internet

When we met Wreck-It Ralph (JOHN C. REILLY), we entered a world of boomer nostalgia. The videogame culture of the 80s came back to all of us who had lived through it, and introduced it to a new generation who now enjoy playing the retro, 16-bit arcade classics as much as the modern high-definition games. Our personal game collection here has added a classic wood-grain Atari 2600 console as well as a Nintendo 64, and are getting regular play.

Since we left Ralph and his new best friend, Sugar Rush racer Princess Vanellope (SARAH SILVERMAN), things have gone in a predictable pattern. Every night Ralph and Vanellope meet for root beers at Tapper's and talk about what they want to do with their lives -- which for Ralph involves meeting Vanellope every night at Tapper's for root beer and talking about what they want to do with their lives. Vanellope, on the other hand, would like a little more. She's getting bored with the same tracks in Sugar Rush, so Ralph decides to fix it -- which is never a good idea for a guy who's whole raison d'etre is to wreck things. He makes a new track, Vanellope takes it in the middle of a race, and the girl actually playing the game ends up breaking the steering wheel controllor while she tries to regain control of the vehicle. Arcade owner Mr. Litwick (ED O'NEILL) finds he can get a replacement online at eBay, but it costs more than the game makes in a year. He makes the decision to sell the game for parts and unplugs it, leaving the entire population of Sugar Rush suddenly homeless and in a panic.

Desperate, Ralph decides to go to this eBay and win the steering wheel controller with Vanellope. But, thinking eBay is a game where you shout out a bigger number than the previous player, he ends up winning the steering wheel at an outrageous price, before learning he needs to have actual money to claim his prize. Thus begins the real quest, as he and Vanellope make the acquaintance of a pop-up messenger named Spamley (BILL HADER), who shows them how to make money playing videogames on the Internet. In this case, by winning digital upgrades that can be sold to other players seeking the lookt. The most expensive item is a racecar that can be obtained in a game called Slaughter Race, which turns out to be something right up Vanellope's alley, and puts the two friends at odds with the car's owner, Shank (GAL GADOT).

Through twists and turns that take the viewer to every corner of the Internet -- including the not-so-nice ones -- we see Ralph achieve his objective. But Vanellope's goals change when she encounters the cast of Disney Princesses, realizing that her real dream is to remain on the Internet and be a racer in Slaughter Race. Believing he is about to lose his friend, Ralph seeks help on the Dark Web, looking or a virus that will make Slaughter Race boring to Vanellope so she chooses to come home with him. But the virus doesn't stay in the race game, and soon begins a denial of service attack all across the Internet.

While there are obvious lessons in here about the meaning of friendship and how the technology of the Internet draws out and magnifies the worst in people, RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET is still a fantastic thrill ride that requires multiple viewings to fully appreciate everything that Disney has jammed into it. It's more than an Easter egg hunt -- it's an Easter egg monsoon that the mind simply cannot process all at once.

Filled with laugh-out-loud moments and scenes that evoke audible "That was awesome!" exclamations (and that's from the adults!), RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET is the Blu-ray you need to own, and will find yourself watching again and again -- almost as much as that video of the cat falling off the back of the couch you've seen so many times.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0