‘Wreck It Ralph’ (2012) Featured a Wholesome Friendship. ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ (2018) Was Just Creepy.
Something about an old man being possessive of a twelve year old girl is disconcerting.
Considering they put “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley in the trailer, I was never fully convinced that “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was going to be a cinematic masterpiece.
Boy, was it much worse than I expected.
The sequel to “Wreck It Ralph” does not just provide the audience with a two hours worth of 2010 memes, but it also seems to misrepresent the characters that made the original movie so captivating in the first place. Overall, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” seemed more like a Wattpad fanfiction than a $175 million project by Pixar.
So bring out the emojis, the snapchat filters, and the hilariously embarrassing attempts to relate to today’s youth. Let’s dive into it.
Fix-It-Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun
Who? These two lovebirds:
I hope you did not forget about these two major characters in “Wreck It Ralph.” The filmmakers sure did. Aside from a brief cameo at the beginning and end of the film, the two characters are virtually non-existent.
They were supposedly “adopting” the racers that were left homeless after Sugar Rush was unplugged. Considering the polar opposite personalities of Fix-It-Felix and Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun as well as the incredible talents of their voice actors, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch, the concept was endearing as a B story. If only we were able to see it on-screen…
Otherwise known as the titular character, or the character that pulled at our heartstrings at the end of the original movie.
This is him now. Feel old yet?
All jokes aside, Ralph’s personality seems stripped of its complexity and nuance. He is no longer a determined, independent strongman. Rather, he is a dumb, dependant lump who spends the entire movie attempting to undermine Vanellope’s dreams. Eventually, he has an one-liner epiphany in which “he can see how he comes across as needy and clingy and self-destructive.”
What particularly disturbs me is the fact that Ralph, a 30-something year old, is “needy and clingy,” to a 12 year old girl. It does not help that Ralph’s behavior throughout the movie is reminiscent of a toxic, abusive, gaslighting, pedophilic groomer.
At the start of the movie, Ralph tries to reinvent Sugar Rush, Vanellope’s game, to make it more exciting. (Even though both of them were almost killed when Ralph tried interfering in Sugar Rush and Hero’s Duty in “Wreck It Ralph.”) As a direct consequence, Sugar Rush gets unplugged. While Vanellope makes excuses for Ralph’s actions to her fellow racers, Ralph does not apologize nor attempts to empathize with Vanellope. Instead, he gushes about how great it can be that they can spend more time together. Vanellope eventually finds happiness in another racing game, Slaughter Race, and meets a new cool-headed friend named Shank. Ralph decides to sabotage her newfound relationships, so he can keep Vanellope for himself.
It doesn’t matter that Ralph admitted that he was “clingy.” It doesn’t matter if the dynamic duo reconciled at the end. It doesn’t matter that everything worked out. Toxic is toxic. We should not be empathizing with this kind of behavior, especially not when the toxic relationship is “fixed” with a single line of acknowledgement of abuse.
While “Wreck It Ralph” also featured Ralph and Vanellope’s friendship, Ralph assumed a more responsible, fatherly role. Ralph’s story arc revolved around accepting that he was always going to be the “bad guy,” but realizing that he can still be a “hero.” He builds a race track for Vanellope because he empathizes with her loneliness and isolation. Ralph crushes Vanellope’s race car because he does not want to see her get hurt. Ralph’s decisions around Vanellope are based on what he thinks is best for her, not his personal interests. In “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Ralph uncharacteristically puts his feelings before his head.
Ralph was toxic. That does not excuse Vanellope’s behavior.
Vanellope spent the entirety of the last movie trying to become a “real racer.” She trespassed into a race car building factory, she practiced, and she ultimately overthrew King Candy.
Only 5 minutes into the sequel, Vanellope decides that she’s bored of the racing facade.
Considering that Mr. Litwick is still the owner of the arcade, I doubt that “Ralph Breaks The Internet” took place a long time after the original film. Even if it did, Vanellope’s character growth is completely disregarded in favor of creating a conflict.
Vanellope also struggles between choosing Ralph or her love of Slaughter Race. Yet, while “Wreck It Ralph” heavily emphasized the dangers of going “turbo” and leaving your game, Vanellope never seems to consider the possibility. She selfishly considers the balance of her own relationships before thinking about the future of Sugar Rush or even Slaughter Race.
I could say “Ralph Breaks The Internet” was a cash-grab by the filmmakers to sell their last bits of Wreck-It-Ralph merch. However, just because something started out as a cash-grab doesn’t mean that it is inherently bad. Toy Story 4 was a cash-grab on a dying series, but it still featured phonomenal animation and heartwarming story.
“Ralph Breaks The Internet” was worse than a cash-grab. It was a shameless cash-grab.
Every aspect of the movie, except its animation, was replaced with a thrift-shop version of its predecessor. (Ironically, “Wreck It Ralph,” had a more low-cost budget.)
What an interesting concept ruined by poor execution…