Film review: Ralph Breaks The Internet will warm the cockles of your heart
WHEN it comes to a sequel, go bigger or go home. Rich Moore and Phil Johnston's imaginative and deeply satisfying follow-up to the 2013 feel-good computer animation Wreck-It Ralph achieves the former without straying far from the latter by propelling its coin-operated arcade game characters into the mind-boggling realms of the world wide web.
Ralph Breaks The Internet expands its bewildering array of visual targets to include social media behemoths, video sharing portals and online shopping brands plus those irritating advertising pop-ups which multiply like a virulent fungus.
The naivete of candy-coloured characters in their new home is mined for a steady stream of laughs.
"We know where to go if we need a pair of goggles," chirps Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) as he misreads the name of one search engine and an inaugural visit to an auction website leads to Ralph and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) merrily bidding against one another.
A savvy, warm-hearted script credited to co-director Johnston and Pamela Ribon is punctuated by cautionary notes about viruses, the dark web and trolls.
"First rule of the internet: Don't read the comments!" observes one guardian of the digital realm.
Film-makers responsible for Ralph Breaks The Internet can ignore these sage words: Comments for their briskly paced adventure should be overwhelmingly positive.
Vanellope von Schweetz hurriedly abandons her Sugar Rush game when a young girl accidentally sheers off the steering wheel during a race.
A replacement part is too costly for arcade owner Mr Litwak (Ed O'Neill) and he turns off the machine.
While the denizens of Sugar Rush are rehoused in other games, Ralph and Vanellope find a steering wheel on an auction website and have 24 hours to raise just over $27,000 to honour their outlandish bid.
Ralph raises funds as an intent meme star on the Buzzztube channel run by algorithm Yesss (Taraji P Henson), and Vanellope puts the pedal to the metal in a Grand Theft Auto-esque game called Slaughter Race, which is the digitised dominion of sassy petrol head Shank (Gal Gadot).
Ralph Breaks The Internet warms the cockles of our hearts then breaks them in tiny pieces with a sob-inducing finale that cleverly nods to the 1980s arcade classic Donkey Kong.
Reilly and Silverman beautifully convey the central friendship through various trials and tribulations.
"Me and the kid are like shoes and socks, peanut butter and bacon. One cannot exist without the other," beams Ralph.
We emerge from the cinema with similarly broad grins and tear-glistened cheeks.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (PG, 112 mins) Animation/Comedy/Action/Adventure. Featuring the voices of John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P Henson, Bill Hader, Ed O'Neill, Phil Johnston. Directors: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Released: November 30 (UK & Ireland)