Rating: **** (out of 5)
Earlier this year, Steven Spielberg released "Ready Player One," a film that tried to be a love letter to 1980's pop culture but was so empty of a story it just seemed to be two hours of references. Not in any truly clever way, but in a way that made the movie feel like a two-hour version of that old "SNL" sketch, "Remember the '80s."
There’s nothing wrong with pop culture references in cinema. Without them, Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t have careers.
The references don’t matter, as long as there is a good enough story to go along with them.
Luckily, the new Disney (not Pixar) comedy "Ralph Breaks the Internet" is worthy.
"Ralph Breaks the Internet" is a sequel to the 2012 film, "Wreck-It Ralph." The titular character, voice by John C. Reilly, is fed up with being called a villain, only to leave his game on a journey to become a hero.
Along the way, he meets Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a glitch race car driver from the game “Sugar Rush,” who is later discovered to be a princess.
In the new film, Ralph is content with his life — work eight hours a day when the arcade is open and hang out with Vanellope at night. However, Vanellope is becoming bored with her predictable life. Ralph tries to create a new track for her in the game, but this leads to the real-life console breaking.
Arcade owner Litwak (Ed O’Neill) refuses to spend $200 on a new steering wheel on eBay and decides to unplug the game, displacing all of the characters and leaving Vanellope with an uncertain future.
Ralph wants to help his best friend and decides to take Vanellope on a trip to the one place where they can fix her game — the internet. The pair venture into the world wide web and win an eBay auction that will send a new controller to Litwak’s arcade. Unfortuately, they don’t have the money to pay for the item.
Ralph and Vanellope do what they can to make money to pay for the steering wheel, but as Ralph tries his best to return life to normal, Vanellope discovers she may be happier if she stays behind.
"Ralph" is directed by Rich Moore, whose credits include "Wreck-It Ralph" and episodes of "The Simpsons" and "Futurama," and Phil Johnston, in his directorial debut, who was a writer on "Zootopia" and the underrated comedy, "Cedar Rapids."
The film features the voice talents of Jane Lynch, Jack McBrayer, Gal Godot, Alfred Molina, and Taraji P. Henson, just to name a few.
"Ralph Breaks the Internet" is an incredibly funny, touching and star studded experience that audiences of all ages can enjoy. It is a fun examination of the strength of friendship, how to overcome insecurities and reveling in internet and Disney culture, along with some awesome moments of "girl power."
It is also important to remember that Marvel rules apply to this film, so if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to stay through the end credits.
"Ralph Breaks the Internet" is a film that I feel surpasses its predecessor. It’s the perfect holiday weekend film for everyone to enjoy.