At time of writing, this re-watch of Ralph Breaks The Internet (which I previously wrote about last year in a post looking at the Best Animated Feature nominees at the 2019 Academy Awards) marks the end of an almost year long quest to watch all the entries in the Disney Animated Canon. This is, of course, a soft crossing off as Frozen 2 is out in a fortnight and will have probably been an Oscar nominee itself by the time this post rolls around. Still though, high fives all around – it’s nice to be able to temporarily complete one of these larger lists.
Ralph Breaks The Internet, as you know, is the sequel to the highly successful Wreck-It Ralph which tried to do for video games what Toy Story did for the toy box. It didn’t quite reach the heights of Toy Story, but they still came out with a good film with memorable characters. Here, in the sequel, they try to expand the focus and try to make personifications of the wider internet with a multitude of well known brands (such as eBay) being integrated and some even getting their own characters. It’s an ambitious idea and, whilst a bit undercut by the large amounts of corporate synergy, there are a lot of successes here.
However, there are also a lot of failures as well. In tackling something as vast as the Internet it is clear that the writers’ room was chock-a-block with ideas of different areas of the Internet to lampoon. With the growing trend for Disney films to have lengths closer and closer to two hours, this undoubtedly gave them license to include as many of their favourite ideas as possible. This means that rather than having a few tight storylines, you have a bunch of loose threads and vignettes united by two best friends who have a massive falling out as one cannot deal with the idea of the other wanting to peruse new and separate goals.
There’s a real heart in this film though and, by depicting how a friendship can change as one starts to slightly outgrow the other, they’ve done something that I have never seen in a family film before. At least, not in the way that you see different types of personal conflict depicted by the two characters. The final message comes across as a bit ham-fisted with the characters being persued and almost crushed to death by a literal manifestation of insecurity, but I guess the remit called for an overblown action sequence at some point in the film and choices were made.
It’s not the best film that Disney have produced, but it’s still a sign of how high the bar has been re-raised in the last decade that this feels like a disappointment. By now I’ve seen Disney at their best and their worst and this falls somewhere in the upper middle. Going forward, I do wonder where the canon is going to lead. I gues I might have more of an idea soon when I watch the final film on my list: Frozen 2.