It’s been six years since Ralph accepted his job as the villain of an 80s video game. Six years since Vanellope went from being a glitch to being the best racer in Sugar Rush. Now the arcade has a new feature, wi-fi, and it’s something that frightens the citizens of the game world. Unfortunately, the steering wheel for Vanellope’s game is broken and wi-fi is the only place they can get it. Can Ralph and Vanellope survive the internet while trying to save Vanellope’s game?
Not only does this review contain spoilers but it also contains a ton of disappointment for those of you who loved the first movie. Mainly because the writers forgot most of the plot. Sure, they explain the bare minimum in that these are video game characters. Ralph is the villain from Fix-It-Felix-Jr. who wrecks the apartment building and Vanellope is a racer in Sugar Rush. Remember how, in the last game, Ralph helped Vanellope reclaim her rightful place as not only a racer but the princess of Sugar Rush, a title she later revoked for president? Well, after working so hard to become a racer, Vanellope’s bored with the game. Which is understandable, she does the exact same thing every day and I’m sure that it would get repetitive. So, when she confesses to Ralph, you can bet he wants to help. Unfortunately, his way of helping is by making a new track for her while someone is playing the game. Remember how, in the last movie, Ralph left to get a medal and, while he was gone, the owner thought the game was broken and was going to unplug them, destroying that world altogether? Well, apparently, Ralph forgot and Vanellope, in her excitement, decided to try out the track while someone was playing as her in her own game. A player who tried so hard to get back on the right track that she broke the steering wheel. To make a bad situation worse, the company who made the game not only went out of business but the only replacement controller anyone can find is on eBay and it costs $200.
Since the game doesn’t make that much, the owner decides to unplug it. So, the two people who worked together to save Sugar Rush have now teamed up to destroy it. Great job, guys, really worked together on this one. Thankfully, for the homeless citizens of Sugar Rush, the owner recently had wi-fi installed. Though why he waited that long to install wi-fi I have no idea. However, because of wi-fi, Ralph and Vanellope are able to visit the internet and go to eBay. As for how Ralph’s going to explain his disappearance from the game, Felix is going to cover for him. Though why Felix couldn’t cover for him in the last movie I have no idea.
Of course, I’m sure anyone can tell by the title that the characters are going to visit the internet. I have to admit, I’m actually impressed by the design. The buildings that represent the various websites, the digitized versions of real people walking around what looks like a large city, the search engine represented as an information booth, the ads you see on websites represented as sleazy salesmen that go “psst” in the alleyway. They really put a ton of thought into this virtual world of the internet. You can bet that Ralph and Vanellope are just as impressed but haven’t forgotten that their mission is to get the steering wheel from eBay. Unfortunately, they know nothing about eBay and think it’s a game where you say the highest number and win the prize. To make a bad situation worse, the highest number they called out was 27,001 and that’s how much they owe. So, once again, Ralph and Vanellope do something stupid and have to fix it. Get used to that because it seems to be the pattern of the movie. Anyway, they don’t have the money and they have to get it by tomorrow. Safe to say that time is not on their side, so they end up having to go to a sketchy pop-up guy who sells in-game items for money and their job is to help him collect said items. Unfortunately, Ralph and Vanellope need a ton of money in a very short amount of time and the more expensive items are far more dangerous to get. The item they choose to get is Shank’s car, who is a villain of Slaughter Race which is an obvious Grand Theft Auto parody.
First, I want to say that I love Shank. She’s really awesome and what’s even more awesome is that she’s voiced by Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot. In most sequels, the newly introduced woman is the love interest for the lonely main character. However, that’s not the case with Shank. She’s introduced as an evil character as we see her roasting two players alive for trying to steal her car.
Then, after the players die which, in all reality, means they restarted from the checkpoint, she talks to her crew. Apparently, they don’t do it out of any malicious intent. They’re just trying to give the players a challenge so they won’t get bored with the game. When Ralph and Vanellope try to do the same, Shank doesn’t kill them but, instead, let’s them explain themselves. Not only does Shank show respect for Vanellope’s driving skills but, after hearing their story, makes a video of Ralph and posts it on BuzzTube (an obvious YouTube parody). Then she tells them to go straight to the website and to say that she sent them there. Later on, when Vanellope goes to Shank to talk about how she wants to switch games, Shank offers her an ear and serves as a big sister to her, something that makes Ralph jealous. Unfortunately, she does not show up at the end, both points I will discuss later.
So, Ralph goes to BuzzTube and, when the video Shank made falls out of popularity, ends up creating more videos which are pretty fun to see. Basically, Ralph follows what’s popular hoping to gain more viewership to the point of having a makeup tutorial and, at one point, imitates Bob Ross. You might be wondering why Ralph is wasting time making videos while the 24-hour expiration date for the bid he placed on the Sugar Rush steering wheel is ticking. Well, Buzztube pays you by the like so, if your videos get a ton of likes, you can make a ton of money. Wish WordPress worked that way. Anyway, with the help of Yesss, an algorithm, who’s the head of Buzztube, Ralph metaphorically breaks the internet explaining the title of the movie. Yesss even goes so far as to send popups all over the web to get more people to watch Ralph’s videos. Vanellope wants to help so badly, she becomes a popup and gets sent to a Disney website.
I’ll admit, I actually liked the look of the website with the bots of the regular people in line to ask baby Groot questions only for him to answer with “I Am Groot.” The Storm Troopers play the role of popup blockers, who cause Vanellope to retreat into the Disney Princess dressing room where they’re getting ready for the regular, “Which Princess is your BFF?” quiz. I’ll admit that I both enjoyed and got annoyed with the princesses at the same time. While it was fun to see Disney poke… fun at their classic properties, they also prove that Disney doesn’t listen to its critics. When Vanellope hides in their dressing room, she manages to find common ground with them by being a princess herself even though she revoked the title in the last movie. They ask her all sorts of questions like if she’s been cursed, if animals talk to her and if people assume that all her problems got solved because a big strong man showed up.
Now let’s take a brief look at each princess, or at least each princess that had a movie before this one. Snow White stupidly ate a poison apple from a stranger because that stranger told her that it was a wishing apple and had to be woken up by true love’s kiss. Cinderella dealt with years of abuse but still stayed true to herself and believed in her dreams only for people to victim blame her for years, something The Take discusses very well in this video. Aurora spent most of her movie in a coma and had to be woken up with, again, true love’s kiss. Ariel traded her voice for a chance to explore the human world only for it to not only be framed in a way that makes it look like she did it for a man, but have her thunder stolen by that very man at the end. Belle was not only an avid reader but offered her freedom to the Beast in exchange for her father’s and wasn’t afraid to stand up to her captor. Then she got accused of Stockholm Syndrome and there’s a video explaining how that doesn’t even fit. Jasmine wanted to be free to make her own choices only to be forced back into the palace life and find herself degraded by a psychotic old pervert who not only forced her into a humiliating slave outfit, but she had to kiss in order to distract him from her boyfriend taking the lamp, which didn’t even work. Pocahontas has actually been praised for not taking any cr@p and saving the day at the end, though her movie has been controversial for its portrayal of Native Americans. Mulan went against tradition to save her father’s life and paved the way for Disney princesses to be adventurers rather than damsels in distress. Tiana’s been praised for being the first princess whose dream is not to find her prince but to open her own restaurant and beats the villain at the end, getting rewarded with a prince. Rapunzel blackmailed Flynn into helping her escape and is actually the one who saved his life in the end. Merida scoffed at tradition and was the first princess to end her movie without a love interest. Anna and Elsa, despite the former wanting to fall in love, demonstrated how the love between sisters can be the truest love of all and aren’t actually Disney Princesses thanks to Frozen proving that it can stand on its own. Moana went on an adventure to save her people with the help of Maui (who took a bit of convincing) and has been praised for her bravery and determination. Finally, Vanellope, while not really a princess but is according to this movie, has not only revoked the title of princess but Ralph helped Vanellope become a racer. Vanellope saved herself from Turbo and Ralph with the help of her superpower. So yes, there has been criticism about SOME of the princesses needing a big strong man to save them but not all of them. To make a bad situation worse, the princesses don’t even seem like separate characters. They’re all one entity who have no identity outside of the princess title who each have the same identity as the princess stereotype. Vanellope’s the only exception. Speaking of Vanellope, when she hears that Ralph managed to buy the steering wheel, she gets a traditional Disney Princess song about how she’s tired of Sugar Rush and wants to move to Slaughter Race.
Yes, Vanellope wants to go Turbo and decides to at least spend some time in that video game before she has to go back to the arcade.
Meanwhile, Ralph finally gets the money but not before reading the BuzzTube comments which are not flattering. Some of the comments even get to the point of Cyber-Bullying by talking about how ugly Ralph is and you can bet that he’s hurt. Then Yesss tells him the number one rule of BuzzTube, never read the comments. Which is actually a good rule, but no one ever really follows it, not even me. I’m not kidding, I’ve seen comments that make what people were posting about Ralph look like nothing. I’ve even had to deal with people trolling and gaslighting me just because I have the nerve to post my opinion. Needless to say, that it’s very hurtful to deal with and I can understand how Ralph’s feeling. So just seeing how hurt he was by those mean comments almost made me want to cry. To make a bad situation worse, he calls Vanellope, and he overhears her talking to Shank about how she wants to stay in Slaughter Race and is afraid to tell Ralph.
You can bet this leads to a big fight between Ralph and Vanellope, but the fight was carried out poorly. Remember when I said that Vanellope was going Turbo? Well, they not only forgot about him but the expression itself which was the entire point of the first movie. This was a great opportunity for Ralph to not only bring up what Turbo did to her but how, when he briefly left his game, it nearly got unplugged. Instead, he just points out that she’s needed in her game without bringing up anything that happened in the first movie. While Vanellope argues that, since there are fifteen other racers, none of the players would miss her. So, her situation is a bit different from Ralph’s as people played the game for years without her and were still able to enjoy it. Ralph, on the other hand, is the villain of his game and, without a villain, there’s really no reason to play. Yet, at the same time, now that the players know about Vanellope, they might miss her when she’s gone and move to another game. So, Vanellope’s risking abandoning the other players to their homeless fate because she’s bored. Yet Ralph points out none of this, so he has no leg to stand on in this argument. Yet, even if Ralph had pointed that out, Vanellope could still counter with my point earlier, that Ralph’s game needs him more than Vanellope’s game needs her. Then Ralph, in his anger, could compare her to Turbo and accuse her of trying to replace a member of Shank’s crew like how Turbo replaced her. This way, both sides would have a point. Ralph and Vanellope bonded because they were both abused in their current games. Only Ralph wasn’t appreciated for his role as the villain and Vanellope faced prejudice for everyone thinking that she was a glitch. Having to stay in these worlds where they were abused isn’t fair to either one of them, but Vanellope’s role is smaller than Ralph’s. So, if she wanted to, she could possibly leave with no consequence, something Ralph can’t do.
Unfortunately, Ralph does something so horrible that my sympathy for him goes out the window. He goes back to the sketchy popup guy from the beginning and asks for a virus to ruin Slaughter Race. I get that Vanellope was his first friend and the one who gave him a medal in the first movie (one of the few things from the first movie its sequel remembered), but the last time Ralph went against Vanellope for “her own good,” it backfired big time. Though at least in the first movie, Ralph had a far more understandable reason even if it was due to Turbo’s manipulation. Speaking of Turbo, this also would’ve been the perfect time for him to resurface. Laugh about how Vanellope’s doing what he did and ruin Slaughter Race out of pure spite. Instead, Ralph gets a virus that replicates insecurity and unleashes the virus in Slaughter Race, causing the game to reboot and for Shank to save Vanellope by getting her back to the regular internet. While I understand that Ralph didn’t want to lose his first friend and that his actions might also be motivated by jealousy, I can also see why Vanellope doesn’t take Ralph’s extremely d!ck move well. She’s so upset that she destroys the medal she made for him in the last movie, breaking Ralph’s heart figuratively and literally. Then the virus scans Ralph for his major insecurity issues and make copies of him that wreak havoc all over the internet to look for a friend. So, Ralph broke the internet figuratively and literally. Then Ralph and Vanellope try to stop the viruses and Vanellope offers her friendship to the clingy duplicates in order to save the internet. This is when Ralph learns a lesson about how he needs to let Vanellope go.
However, before he can learn that lesson, we get a scene where the Disney Princesses team up to save Ralph from falling to his death. Then make a big deal about how they’re rescuing a big strong man and again I point out that only some of the princesses have been accused of that.
Remember that scene from Avengers: Endgame where the women make a strong pose so that Disney can brag about how they have strong women superheroes in their movie even though they contributed very little? Well, this is the Disney Princess version of that. What makes this even worse is that the women who were introduced as actual characters take a back seat to the mascots of Disney. Yesss only contributes a little and Shank, the one introduced as a main character, contributed nothing! Shank, whose game was a major event in Vanellope’s life, introduced Ralph to BuzzTube and acted as an older sister to Vanellope disappeared during the main event! Disney, I know you want to make a strong feminist message but, when you ignore your developed women in favor of a glorified entity, you not only sound condescending, but you undermine your own point. You want to watch something where the Disney princesses are totally bad@$$, go with Once Upon a Time where they each have their own personalities.
You’re probably wondering why I’ve only mentioned Felix once and Calhoun never in the review. After all, they were both two prominent characters in the first movie. Wouldn’t they have a huge role in the second? The answer to that is no, they didn’t. They showed up briefly in the beginning to find homes for the homeless citizens of Sugar Rush in Niceland Apartments and then adopted the other racers. You’d think they’d at least get a side plot about how difficult parenting can be but, instead, the movie ignores them. They don’t even get to call Ralph and Vanellope about the chaos their new adopted kids are causing. I mean, imagine if Calhoun and Shank had been there when the viruses attacked. They could’ve worked together to stop it and showed real girl power rather than that condescending, “I swear we’re being feminist!” move from the princesses who are a shadow of what they were in their movies. Instead, Felix and Calhoun show up at the end to brag about how they found the perfect way to raise children which they used to turn the other Sugar Rush racers into perfect angels. Since there’s no such thing as the perfect way to raise children, the sounds of the go-karts mute them while they talk and then there’s a joke about how every parent should hear what Felix and Calhoun have to say. Yes, it’s every bit as lame as I make it out to be and a serious insult to two of the movie’s major characters. Ralph also goes back to Fix-It-Felix-Jr with no problems with the game despite his long absence and Vanellope stays in Slaughter Race but still makes time for Ralph. Shank even rewrote Vanellope’s code so that she can die in the game and regenerate. Which, again, is making me wonder if Turbo’s still alive.
This movie is entertaining but heavily flawed. I give it 4 out of 10; when it’s not forgetting its own universe, it kills most of the functioning brain cells in their own characters.