Wreck-It Ralph may not have seemed like the most obvious of choices for the first 21st century Disney animation to get a theatrical sequel, but perhaps the cyberspace adventure of Ralph Breaks the Internet is just a natural place to take this story after the retro video gaming of the first movie.
In any case, the film is almost here and critics are already singing its praises, with the movie currently holding an impressive Rotten Tomatoes score of 92% based on 37 reviews. Reviewers seem particularly pleased with its sendup of Disney’s own legacy, with the likes of Variety and The Verge praising the work for its clever meta-commentary:
“Ralph is a disruptor by design, and in many ways, he’s the ideal character to bring about the next seismic shift, creating a space where the studio can poke fun at itself, while creating a more enlightened narrative for fans. The movie isn’t all laughs, however, managing to surprise at times by how nuanced the animation can be.”
“What really makes Ralph Breaks the Internet stand apart isn’t the jokes about online culture; it’s the way the film is able to cleverly send up classic Disney movies. Where the original film poked fun at games, this time, the subject of critique is the company’s own legacy. And it’s a smarter, more entertaining film for it.”
We’ve already seen a little of this satire in the Disney princess scene from the trailers, with writer Pamela Ribon recalling a few weeks ago how she was worried that her skewering of old tropes might get her into trouble.
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Beyond this, critics found much to appreciate in the film’s humor and intriguing character dynamics:
“Where the film shines is the friendship story and it shows how Disney Animation is pushing itself harder to tell new stories. They could have simply done ‘Friendship is good’ and Ralph is a good friend to Vanellope by sacrificing himself in some way (similar to the last movie). But instead, Ralph Breaks the Internet goes deeper, showing the dangers of being a bad friend by having Ralph engage in duplicitous behavior to try and save his friendship with Vanellope.”
“It’s a story that serves as a fantastic extension of the original, constructing a narrative that is a natural evolution from where the last one left off, and is packed to the brim with surprises, meta references and immense creativity that will keep you smiling and laughing throughout.”
One criticism that the film’s trailers were met with is their heavy reliance on familiar Disney brands, suggesting that this could’ve turned into an Emoji Movie-style work of cynical commercialism. But while Polygon’s Karen Han is quick to acknowledge this factor, she also argues that the movie’s strengths outweigh its weaknesses:
“The film is unquestionably a corporate product; there’s a lot of very blatant Disney peacocking going on. But it seems that Wreck-It Ralph’s singular core is strong enough to keep its sequel from taking on the patina of a cynical, algorithm-generated product — in fact, it’s the polar opposite. Confession: I began involuntarily tearing up about halfway through the film, and kept crying on and off until the movie came to an end.”
Alonso Duralde from The Wrap, on the other hand, isn’t so forgiving, outright name-checking The Emoji Movie as he admonishes the film for its laziness:
“As Ralph and Vanellope make their way through various recognizable areas of the web, it feels more than a little like the characters in The Emoji Movie traveling from app to app, and that’s no good for anyone. ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ was no masterpiece, but it never felt nearly as phoned-in as this chapter.”
Evidently, Ralph Breaks the Internet isn’t for everyone, but you can form your own opinion when the sequel hits theaters on November 21st.