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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Ralph Breaks the Internet

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie and blog about it.  I've been doing this for eight years now, so if you haven't figured it out yet...well, thanks for stumbling across my blog!  Today, I'm doing Ralph Breaks the Internet.  I originally watched it and blogged about it on March 10, 2019.

 I was pleasantly surprised by Wreck-It Ralph when it first came out six years ago.  Not being much of a gamer, I was originally going to avoid it, as the trailers were making it out to be Video Game Nostalgia: The Movie.  But a ton of surprisingly good reviews made me head out to see it, and I quite enjoyed it.  There was still a good plot and some good characters...the video game nostalgia was just the sprinkles on top.  So, while some were dismissing it's sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet as Website Product Placement: The Movie, I was a little more optimistic.  And that optimism paid off.  While not quite as fresh as the original, it still had some good character work.

It's been six years since the original film.  Wreck-It Ralph loves his life in the arcade, but his best friend Vanellope, in true Disney princess fashion, yearns for something more.  In her racing game, she's memorized every track and beaten every racer.  Life just holds no challenges anymore.  Ralph tries to help her out, by building a new track in her game, but this has real-world ramifications, as a player winds up breaking Vanellope's game Sugar Rush trying to figure out what's going on.  The owner of the arcade determines that Sugar Rush is a goner, and prepares to sell the arcade machine for scraps. 

Luckily, the arcade just got wi-fi, and our heroes learned that they can get a replacement part for the arcade machine from some place on the Internet called "eBay."  So Ralph and Vanellope head onto the Internet!

This is where the plot isn't as strong as the first one.  It's very episodic, as Ralph and Vanellope start bouncing from website to website.  First stop is eBay, where they don't understand how auctions works, so they wind up driving up the price of the arcade part from $200 to $27,001.  A good ol' ticking clock comes into play when they need 24 hours to come up with the money.  Their first attempt leads them to a spambot named JP Spamly, who hires Ralph and Vanellope to steal a car from a video game called Slaughter Race, because someone in the real world is willing to pay $40,000 for it. 

So this leads our heroes to Slaughter Race, an online racing game that takes its cues from Carmageddon and Grand Theft Auto.  The car in question belongs to the final boss, a gang leader known as Shank, voiced by Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot.  Ralph and Vanellope make off with the car, leading to race through Slaughter Race.  Throughout the insane race, Vanellope and Shank find they are kindred spirits, and Vanellope finds that Slaughter Race just might be what she's longing for. 

Shank stops our heroes, and they have a heart-to-heart.  Shank has a more legal way for them to make money, and makes a viral video for Ralph to star in.  Shank then sends them to a website called BuzzzTube, and to her friend, Yasss, the chief algorithm.  With the help of Yasss, they turn Ralph into a meme which starts driving traffic to BuzzzTube, which translates into money for Ralph and Vanellope. 

Wanting to help out, Vanellope volunteers to be one of BuzzzTube's spambots and heads out into the Internet to drive up traffic.  And now the movie becomes Disney Product Placement: The Movie as she heads to the Disney website.  She meets Groot, runs afoul of Stormtroopers, leading to the scene that was in all the trailers, Vanellope meets the Disney princesses. 

Now.  Disney was so successfully spoofed in Shrek that when they try to do it to themselves it smacks of, "See!  See!  We're cool too!  You're laughing with us, not at us!"  That being said, the whole thing is just bonkers enough that it works, and generates some genuine laughs.  And with this mash-up of Disney IPs, of course C-3P0 is the princesses' manager.  Anyway, Vanellope confides to the princess as to how Slaughter Race made her feel, so the princesses encourage her to follow her heart, which leads to Vanellope having her Disney princess song. 

Meanwhile, back at BuzzzTube, Ralph has made enough money, so he calls Vanellope to tell her the good news.  But, instead, Ralph overhears Vanellope talking to Shank about how much she loves Slaughter Race and wants to stay.  Upset by this, Ralph reaches out to JP Spamly about getting a virus to slow down Slaughter Race, thus making Vanellope lose interest in it.  So, Ralph and Spamly go to the dark web to find one, and they do:  an insecurity virus, which finds security flaws and replicates them. 

They unleash it in Slaughter Race, but it crashes the whole game.  The race is one get Vanellope out of the game and to safety.  (Rule established in the first movie:  you can't re-spawn outside your designated game.  So if you die outside your game, you die for reals.)  Ralph, deeply regretful about what he's done, goes in and saves Vanellope just in time. 

Now, see, this is where I would have ended the movie.  Ralph and Vanellope have their heart-to-heart, Vanellope stays in Slaughter Race, Ralph grows as a character and goes home, the end.  But nope!  Instead, Ralph and Vanellope fight, the insecurity virus scans Ralph and, detecting his insecurity at losing Vanellope, creates an army of zombie Ralphs that threaten to crash the entire Internet.  So we have Ralph and Vanellope fighting an army of zombie Ralphs, the zombie Ralphs eventually merge into a Ralph-zilla (made of writhing Ralphs, in some beautifully disgusting animation).  And then, as Ralph-zilla is getting ready to devour Ralph and Vanellope, do Ralph and Vanellope have their heart-to-heart. 

Anyway, this resolves Ralph's insecurity, thus shutting down the virus and causing the zombie-Ralphs to vanish...and Ralph starts falling to his death.  And in a scene that really made the Disney nerd in me nerd out, all the Disney princesses become the Princess Avengers as they rally to save Ralph.  Each princess has their own hero moment, where their princess song is turned into a badass 15-second action riff, and it is glorious. 

Vanellope stays in Slaughter Race (a patch to the game is added to make Vanellope a part of the game), Ralph, having learned to let go, goes home, and learns to make more friends besides Vanellope.  But Ralph and Vanellope still frequently talk, their friendship still strong. 

The end.

And then, the part that blew my mind.  When the first trailer came out, there was this gag about feeding pancakes to a bunny.

The line read on "The bunny gets the pancakes" cracks me up every time. 

Anyways, when I was watching the end credits, I was like, "Hey, the 'bunny gets the pancakes' gag wasn't in the film," and I was mildly disappointed.  And then we get to our mid-credits stinger.  We see that little girl in the backseat of the car.

Mom:  What did you think of the movie, sweetie?
Kid:  It was good, but one of my favourite things from the trailer wasn't in the movie.

Mom:  Oh, while maybe playing your game will cheer you up.

The kid fires up the Pancake Milkshake game, and we launch into that gag.  So after I saw the movie in the theatre, and i was driving home, I started thinking.

"I wonder if they put that in the end credits for the people who'd be upset that it got cut from the film?"

"I wonder if they gave the kid that line just to make a joke about how it got cut from the film.



If they did, that's the most glorious slow burn of a set-up for a gag I've ever seen in an animated film. 

But yeah.  Ralph Breaks the Internet has some great character stuff, but the plot isn't as strong as the original film.  Still, though.  A worthy sequel.

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