Ralph Breaks the Internet
Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by: Phil Johnston and Rich Moore
Produced by: Clark Spencer, John Lasseter, and Jennifer Lee
Written by: Pamela Ribon
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, Sean Giambrone, Flula Borg, Kristen Bell, Auli’i Cravalho, Kelly MacDonald, Mandy Moore, Anika Noni Rose, Irene Bedard, Linda Larkin, Paige O’Hara, Jodi Benson, Idina Menzel, and Ali Wong
Ralph Breaks the Internet is one of those rare sequels that not only does justice to the original film, but meaningfully expands on the characters and world introduced there. Maybe it doesn’t soar quite as high in this regard as say How to Train Your Dragon 2, but it comes close. The Story follows Wreck-it Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope Von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) as they embark on an adventure into the big bright world of the internet. Their plan is to use eBay to obtain a new steering wheel for “Sugar Rush” with hopes of rescuing the broken game from being sold for parts. From there the story evolves in a remarkably fluid fashion, with the goals of the characters steadily shifting and increasing in scope. The film eventually tackles big concepts such as what actually gives life meaning, and what it truly means to be a friend. The second largest triumph of the film may actually be its ability to seamlessly weave these profound underlying themes into a near constant stream of comedy, action, and awe-inspiring visuals. The largest triumph though has to be the film’s depiction of the internet itself. Full disclosure, I actually groaned the first time I read the title of the film. For some reason seeing that Ralph was going to be breaking “the internet” made it seem to me like the movie was doomed to be a cheesy, shallow meme of itself.
Visions of The Emoji Movie danced through my head (Proof I guess that no matter how much you may want to, you can never really delete things from your brain), but as it turns out, I shouldn’t have been so cynical. Disney nailed it. The depiction of the internet that Ralph and Vanellope explore feels authentic. Actual sites and brands like Twitter and Google are cleverly used to inject reality and credibility into the world. And the fictitious sites created strictly for the movie (such as the YouTube clone BuzzzTube) are such perfect caricatures of their real-world counterparts that they immediately evoke a sense of familiarity. The filmmaker’s very deliberate decision to incorporate outdated sites and services (RIP MySpace) as the foundation of the current internet, is a great touch that will no doubt trigger a bit of nostalgia in the older crowd. This refreshing amount of depth, detail, and intent never seems far away in anything the studio tries to accomplish and it’s the adherence to this philosophy that really makes the film shine. Overall Ralph Breaks the Internet is an exceptional experience that has something for everyone, which in my opinion should be the goal of any family movie.
How We Broke the Internet
A hefty 30+ minute look behind the scenes of Ralph Breaks the Internet, featuring commentary from nearly every department involved in the creation of the film. Writers, directors, artists, animators, tech wizards, designers, actors, and many more give valuable insight into how the largest scale animated movie ever made by Disney came together. The motives of the characters and the course of the plot are explored in-depth, and as the directors (Phil Johnston and Rich Moore) explain their vision, the successes of the film become obvious. Very little of what they say seems foreign or surprising. They achieved what they set out to do with rare clarity. A great deal of time is also spent emphasizing just how large an undertaking the film was and how much detail and research went into its creation. The design process is dissected thoroughly and seeing that the designers did things like taking apart computers and studying their motherboards to glean inspiration for the internet city, illustrates the amount of thought put into world building and authenticity. Another example would be the fact that they brought in an actual professional award-winning auctioneer (Brian Cuirless) to voice the eBay auction sequence. And the animation crew responsible for creating the epic car chase scenes were sent to an actual racing school, where they got to experience many of the thrilling maneuvers that would end up in the film firsthand. Care of this extent seems to have permeated nearly every aspect of the production and it shows. If you enjoyed the film and want to get into the heads of the many brilliant people that made it possible, the 30ish minutes you will spend on this feature are a good investment.
Deleted Scenes *Possible Spoilers*
Commentary throughout from Directors Rich Moore and Phil
Into the Internet
This scene is a bare-bones early storyboard animation. The inhabitants of the arcade all decide to check out the WiFi router shortly after it’s installed. While they are in the router Mr. Litwak enables the connection and QBert accidentally becomes the first one to be capsuled up and sent into the internet. The scene is kinda funny in that Ralph seems pretty willing to just leave poor QBert to whatever fate the internet holds for him, only to feign worry and relief moments later when QBert returns. QBert is visibly shaken from the ordeal and when Felix (apparently the only one who can understand QBert) asks him what he saw, he just repeats “everything” over and over again. Apart from the small laugh and a bit of fan service for all twelve of the QBert lovers out there, the scene is pretty underwhelming and an understandable cut.
My favorite Deleted scene, “Opposites” builds off of a cut plot point in which Yesss has created two distinct memes. You are either a Ralph or a Vanellope, a winner or a loser. Ralph and Vanellope discuss the matter on top of a train. Vanellope scoffs at the idea that the two could be so different. But Ralph thinks that Yesss might be on to something and that they really are kinda opposites when you think about it. Vanellope is struggling to come to grips with the idea when Yesss pulls them both back inside the train and goes off on a surprisingly cogent rant about the tribal echo-chambers that tend to form when only like-minded people interact, and even the Internet’s role in facilitating the phenomenon. Just before the topic can become too heavy though, Yesss cracks a joke about solving the problem by creating a site that will bring everyone together, referring to the film’s fictitious Disney lover’s hub OhMyDisney.com
Untitled Felix and Calhoun Family Scene
This scene gives a little more background to the struggles that Felix and Calhoun encounter as the new parents of the fifteen kart racer kids that have been displaced from the broken Sugar Rush game. Other than being cute (because everything featuring the Sugar Rush Racers is automatically cute) and maybe giving a bit more context to Felix seeming so disheveled the night he met Ralph at Tapper’s for a root beer, this scene is pretty forgettable.
A Bubble of One
This scene exists in a very different version of the film than the one that made it into theaters. Here, the rift between Ralph and Vanellope seems to have developed more as the result of competing against one another for internet fame, rather than Vanellope developing a desire to leave the arcade. Ralph has actually become so lonely that he resorts to using a stamp to clone himself for company. It’s interesting to hear the directors explain that even though the film ended up going in another direction, the concept of Ralph being cloned lived on and would eventually go on to inspire the virus cloned Ralphs and even Ralphzilla.
The funniest of the bunch. Shank, the queen bee of Slaughter Race, is trying to recruit real-world players into the fight against the virus and Ralphzilla. But Jimmy, (one of the kids playing Slaughter Race earlier in the film) is AFK and so his Grandma, who just happens to hear the pleas coming from his headset as she passes by, ends up being the one to answer the call to arms. Hearing the grandmotherly voice of June Squibb coming from the mouth of Jimmy’s bald and tattooed Slaughter Race character, talking about delivering an “epic butt whooping”, is comedy gold. The directors seemed genuinely sad that the scene didn’t make it into the final cut, but their reasoning of cutting anything that doesn’t drive the story forward is sound.
In this deep dive into the music of Ralph Breaks the Internet, composer Henry Jackman walks us through his creative process for scoring the film. He talks about the importance he felt in using a traditional orchestra alongside some more modern synthesized methods to create something that felt appropriately techy, but still warm and epic and Disney. As well as his desire to pull some of the music from the first film and morph it into a new and interesting form for the sequel. We also get an in-depth look into the making of the film’s sensational original song “A Place Called Slaughter Race”, Vanellope’s hilarious spoof of a typical “I want” style Disney princess song. To ensure the song had the correct feel the studio even brought in the big gun himself, Mr. Alan Menken, (Scorer of juggernauts such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and the Little Mermaid) to compose. Hearing about his approach and seeing Sarah Silverman and Gal Gadot recording their parts definitely elevates what is already an extraordinary part of the film.
Surfing for Easter Eggs
I was really curious to watch this Featurette. I wondered if there would be much point since huge parts of the film are more or less entirely constructed of blatant easter eggs. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are indeed a ton of obscure Easter eggs scattered throughout the film ranging from “Oh I can’t believe I missed that” to “I don’t even know what that is, but cool.” Obvious care was taken cater to easter egg enthusiasts and you have to appreciate the fan service.
Two minutes of short video clips of cats doing various funny and cute things. The clips were crafted when the team was trying to build up content for their YouTube clone “BuzzzTube”. It’s adorable cats, don’t overthink it, just watch.
Baby Drivers (Slaughter Racing School)
Here you get a couple of extra minutes behind the scenes with the animation team on the day they went through racing school in preparation to create the tremendous car chase scenes in the film. They obviously had a blast doing it and the knowledge they absorbed absolutely had a positive impact on the final product. If you liked the racing in the film, or just happen to enjoy nervous giggling, give it a watch.
Performed by Imagine Dragons
Directed by Dave Meyers
Super fun video following a motley crew of gamers around a classic arcade as they all try and prove their skills. The video accompanies the song very well.
In This Place”
Performed by Julia Michaels
So, I guess for some reason they thought that Vanellope’s adorable, hilarious, great-in-every-way song “A Place Called Slaughter Race” needed a serious pop cover. It did not. I had to watch this video like three times before I was sure that it wasn’t intended to be satire. It was not. I half expected there to be some commentary at the end about how everyone has their own slaughter race to run or that slaughter race is just a metaphor for whatever you really want in life. Cringe. It’s a no for me.
This one might be a bit redundant if you already fully watched the music feature, as much of the content is recycled from there. But it is nice to have a standalone place to get the behind the scenes scoop on what might be the best Disney princess song of all time (calm down it’s just my opinion.) Hear legendary composer Alan Menken weigh in on his approach to the piece and see some great footage of Sarah Silverman and Gal Gadot recording their parts.
Paperman is a six-minute long black and white short that keeps the tradition of including shorts that have absolutely nothing to do the feature piece alive and well. It’s a classic tale of a boy meeting a girl, falling in love, and then using magical paper airplanes to track her down.