When it’s been your job since the ’80s to wreck things, you’d better believe you’ll cause some damage when you’re unleashed into the internet.
Six years after the events of Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph (John C. Reilly) and his candy race car princess best friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are living the sweet life in their suburban video game emporium, but the routine has grown a bit stale, especially for Vanellope. After a race mishap (started by Ralph) that leaves the game’s human-world steering wheel broken, Vanellope and Ralph jump at the chance to travel via the new WiFi installed by the store’s owner, Mr. Litwak (Ed O’Neill), to the wondrous world of the internet, effectively setting the childlike Ralph and impetuous Vanellope loose into an unknown world.
The gang is all back, including the always delightful and unorthodox pairing of Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch), who are happily married and hilariously take on the remaining 15 adolescent girl racers stranded by the broken game. Alan Tudyk, whose evil King Candy perished in the first film, is also back as an Ask Jeeves-like search bar called KnowsMore who predicts answers with familiar inaccuracy, judges us relentlessly, and appreciates it when we say “please” when we search. New characters include Gal Gadot’s baddass racing diva Shank, who bonds with Vanellope, and Taraji P. Henson’s Buzzfeed-esque algorithm Yesss, who helps guide Ralph when he inadvertently becomes an internet video star.
The clever settings are back, along with a personification of the internet that will make you think twice about not thanking Google every time you get your requested information back in .00004 seconds. The internet, looking not unlike the opening animation sequence from HBO’s Silicon Valley (complete with the familiar corporate logos that rule our lives) is populated by us, the internet surfers, shown here as mini square-headed avatars who happily jump in pods to get to our virtual destinations. Everything from the eBay reminder emails to the dark web to a popular MMORPG racing game is given the Disney touch, giving life to the 1s and 0s that make up our digital world. And when Ralph becomes a star thanks to some meme-worthy video clips, taking his lovably destructive tendencies global, he quickly gets the lesson every internet star learns: the internet can be an awful, cruel place.
But most of all, Ralph Breaks the Internet isn’t a film about how the internet can suck, or really the internet at all. It’s about what it means to be a friend even when it means letting go of that friend, even at our own expense, to let them live their best lives. And that, combined with some pointed (and insider-y) feminist realizations from the entire Disney Princess squad, makes for a delightful Disney sequel that in true Disney fashion, works for both the kids and the adults — even in our cynical, internet-fueled world.