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Let me preface this by saying I don’t think of this as a review that I’m writing. I usually say in my movie review posts that I’m no movie critic, so take all of this with a giant grain of salt. That said, I do like to think of myself as a critical thinker, sometimes…and thinking critically about Disney movies is about as scholarly as I get at this point in my life. Think of this more as a discussion of the movie, if we saw it together and talked about it on the way home from the theatre (because this is pretty much the conversation my husband and I had on the way home). I will also say, because I’m just going to discuss things, there probably will be spoilers. But really, there’s no “King Candy was Vanellope’s dad!” (he wasn’t – he was Turbo, remember?!) level of spoilers here, it’s pretty much the movie it portends to be in commercials, except for one part of the end, so be forewarned. If you want the kind of review that will say “It was great, go see it!” then you should probably head on over to some other blog now, I will not be offended.

I’ll just jump right in and say, I’m not really sure what I was expecting. I saw the preview at the D23 Expo in 2017, with the Disney Princesses scene, and the fact that Disney as a company allowed itself to be poked fun of in that way was refreshing. Honestly, that was my favorite part of the movie too. The problem I had with it, is that it just kind of went all over the place, with no real coherent story, or “moral” as the first movie had. I feel like the take away with Wreck it Ralph was that life is what you make of it, you can change your circumstances, it’s good to be bad, and winning is everything. Hmm, wait, I may be getting some of those wrong, but anyway…This new storyline, 6 years later (which they mention a LOT for some reason), has a very vague take away. Don’t be insecure? Don’t smother your friends? It’s okay to leave friends and responsibilities behind if you get bored in life. I dunno. I feel like my review is now also all over the place, but the point I’m trying to make is that the avenues they decided to go down in a movie that is supposed to be discovering and sharing all or parts of the internet today, could’ve been done a lot better. Or at least made more sense.

They touch briefly on the phenomenon that is “trending” and “getting likes” and how that is currency in today’s world. Then we momentarily learn about comments and how comments online are bad and you shouldn’t read them. I just felt that in today’s day and age when online bullying is still a thing and places like instagram are virtual breeding grounds for creating, fostering, and magnifying insecurities, fomo, and feeling “less than,” they fell short of actually making a statement about how bad that is and how it’s not reality. I have luckily not had my children affected by online bullying (that I know of), but I have seen a good mood turn into one of feeling like crap when my daughter just scrolls through instagram. I’ve certainly felt that myself. That’s a hard message to learn, as a child or an adult, that what you see online isn’t all there is to life – that joy doesn’t come from the likes you receive, the views you get, or the followers you have. On a personal level, I’ve definitely seen that what it takes to be “successful” in this online world is creating a brand and being that non-stop forever until you don’t really know where that ends and you begin. Sure, some have been able to balance it, but it is a harsh reality that some people may never find a way out of. Certainly I didn’t expect or need an animated documentary on the pitfalls of the internet in 2018 and how to combat them. I just thought more care could’ve been taken with a platform as large as this, about the downside of instant internet fame of today. That said, I guess the Disney synergy of countless online presences might prevent that message, since they want you to buy the things and wear the styles and eat the cute foods (or take photos of them anyway).

 

One of the other subplots was the concept of a virus; how a virus exposes an insecurity in a system and can destroy it from there. A very interesting way to explain that and make it have “real world” consequences. (And really, viruses are one of the easiest and most preventable dark sides of the internet – I mean, get virus software and don’t click on links you don’t know, ya know?) Translating it into a literal “insecurity” and showing the effects of insecurity on friendship and self-worth was a strange way to go, in my opinion. I guess the overarching message was, it’s okay to have friends with different interests, and just because they have other interests/friends, doesn’t mean they don’t like you. And that makes sense, that’s great. But it took a lonnnng time to get there, with a lot of random winding roads along the way (which I guess could be a metaphor for the never-ending distracting nature of the internet itself, but that would be a stretch…). At the end of the day, it had a lot of overlap from “Haha this is just characters from a game discovering new things” to “Wait, is this reality? Did a video game character just buy something on ebay? And did another video game character just leave her game never to return, cause she was bored?” I should know, however, from dealing with the Cars universe and Pixar, not to over-analyze things or read too much into things, or try to make logical sense out of an animated film primarily made for children.

Which brings me to my next point, I really don’t know if young kids will find this entertaining. There is quite a bit of waxing philosophical from the main characters and while I guess young kids could miss that and just think “haha that guy has big eyeballs and a funny name” or something, it just didn’t have the same entertainment value in my mind, and most kids aren’t going to make the connection from computer insecurity to human insecurity. I will definitely be interested to hear what my 10 year old thinks when he sees it.

Again, the Princesses part was funny, as a commentary on Disney characters as well as I guess a dig at millennials, when all the princesses get new “costumes.” Maybe just I saw it as a dig at all the “Disney instragram uniforms” you see in stylized photos with carefully placed branding. I am reaching the “get off my lawn” age of internet usage, so it could be that. I’d love to see Disney turn that scene into a series of shorts like they’ve done with the new Mickey Mouse cartoons. Any time a giant corporate entity can see the smart humor to be found within its own walls, that’s a good thing.

I also really enjoyed the post-credit scene as well, so stay tuned for that. It was cute (but I also expected it to end sooner than it did and really leave us hanging).

Overall, it was a fun but very very generic glossed-over look at the internet. Many internet horrors were of course not mentioned, as I wouldn’t expect in a family film, but I don’t know, maybe more of a warning about how you shouldn’t actually try to make a ton of money doing stupid things on video, and how that hard truth isn’t necessarily a good thing would’ve been wise to add. The fun innocence of the first film definitely lost its luster, which again, could be a metaphor for the real internet. I’m not sure it would be a multiple-viewing title in our house, which is our usual mark of success.

 

I’d love to know what you think! If you have seen Ralph Breaks the Internet, did you love it or agree with anything above? Let’s discuss! 

 

Disclaimer: I attended a complimentary screening, but my opinions are (obviously) my own.