You may think it’s a bit too early for a “Ready Player One” remake but Disney certainly don’t as they blend that movie’s exploitative nostalgia with a shameless approach to product placement so cynical, it would make “The Emoji Movie” blush.
When Ralph (John C Reilly) accidentally breaks an important part of ‘Sugar Rush’, the future looks grim for Vanellope (Sarah Silverman)’s game. But hope returns when the arcade owner installs a newfangled wi-fi router and suddenly Ralph and Vanellope have access to the wonders of the World Wide Web. Finding what they want on eBay, their adventure and friendship are complicated when Vanellope discovers the MMO racing game ‘Slaughter Race’ and begins to wonder if she wants to return to the arcade at all.
There’s something distasteful about how “Ralph Breaks The Internet” portrays the online world. The movie’s ‘look aren’t we ironic’ use of real-life brand names feels deeply disingenuous, more about egregiously assaulting the young eyes and minds of proto-netizens than telling a good story. The eBay product placement is particularly obnoxious and it’s really only once the movie gets past its auction-focused plot point that you’re able to detect its heart.
Where the original “Wreck-It Ralph” cleverly and affectionately mined our nostalgia for the era of 8-bit arcade games, “Ralph Breaks The Internet” hopes it can make you nostalgic for right now. While there are some funny moments when Ralph and Vanellope find their way to the Disney website, its tempered by the fact that you’re being bludgeoned over the head with Disney’s product portfolio.
In the end, the movie’s story about friendship and parenting and the importance of being able to let go can’t really escape the smothering commercialisation and while it’s cute that Vanellope gets her own Disney princess song, Sarah Silverman is to singing what Pierce Brosnan is to…singing, so it kind of takes the edge off. With a finale that teeters on the edge of Cronenbergian body-horror
While there are moments here and there where this cash-in sequel manages to recapture the charm of the original but they are few and far between, and the rest has a decidedly old-fashioned Disney straight-to-video laziness to it.