By Josh Muchly

Ralph has been re-written as an uncourageous, co-dependent hack.

Upshot: A sequel to WRECK-IT RALPH (2012). When Ralph (John C. Reilly) creates an impromptu racetrack as a surprise for Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), it breaks the steering wheel used to play the game. Ralph and Vanellope must then go on adventure through the internet to “purchase” a replacement steering wheel on EBay ….

High-point: philosophical musings. There is some discussion on the purpose of struggle and the undesirability of perfection; of Heaven on Earth. Having everything you want leads to a boring life. Or a life with no ambition. Or, one with no adventure. No thrill! The film gets that part correct. In the first three minutes Vanellope says, “Do you realize we’re basically just zeroes and ones floating around the universe like tiny specks of dust? Doesn’t the very nature of our existence make you wonder if there’s more to life than this?” While some of us may despair at the thought (and others choose not think about it at all), it led me to ponder The Simulation. Who’s got their hand on the steering wheel of our fates? Chance? God? Some other species with the capability to create simulated realities?  We’ll probably never know. But, like Vanellope, I’d rather rebel against a “something” than surrender to “nothing.”

Low-point: Ralph’s devolution. In WRECK-IT RALPH we’re introduced to a character who is programmed to break things, but can, wants to, and does fix things! Now, six years later, he’s devolved into a un-fixer. Ralph has been re-written as an uncourageous, co-dependent hack. He can’t have a disagreement with someone(!), and even cowers at the over-used expression “agree to disagree.” And all of this for what? To give each of the Disney princesses a cameo (they rescue Ralph by film’s end). Not worth it, in my estimation. Especially since Vanellope herself scoffs at the title and role of the Disney Princess — “I’d rather you think of me as plain old Vanellope, the racer.” Even Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch) step up to the plate and “adopt” displaced refugees from Vanellope’s broken arcade game. Ralph breaks the internet. He breaks his friendships. He fixes nothing. At least not by himself. An un-hero. Shame.

Rundown: I enjoyed the visualization of the internet that occurs: tweets show up a little blue birds, Google is a professor named KnowsMore, and so on…. It’s cute, and clever to “experience” the internet the way our protagonists do. However, much of the film is just one big advertisement for other Disney properties: The Disney Princesses, TRON, etc…. Meh. Overall, this felt like misuse of talent. Even if some redemption can be found in WRECK-IT RALPH 3, this was a lousy installment and waste of character development.

Muchly Scale: 3 out of 7

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