'Ralph Breaks the Internet' is a hilarious must-see sequel, but it's not better than the original

DisneyAdmittedly, the premise of ‘Wreck-It Ralph 2’ doesn’t sound like it gives way for the makings of a great movie, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I laughed and how smart the film is.

Warning: There are minor spoilers below for “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

Ralph Breaks the Internet,” the sequel to Disney’s 2012 hit, “Wreck-It Ralph,” is in theatres later this month and it’s a sequel worthy of the original.

Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are back. This time around, the two best friends head to the web to find eBay in order to replace a broken steering wheel for Vanellope’s arcade game, “Sugar Rush.” If they don’t, her arcade game is going to be scrapped for parts.

INSIDER previewed the movie early and, while it may not make you as emotional as the first film, it’s a must-see for the amount of cameos it includes, two fun end-credits scenes, and plenty of well-earned laughs for both kids and adults.

Why to see it: The original cast is back with notable additions from “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot and “Empire’s” Taraji P. Henson.

Wreck It Ralph 2 Ralph Breaks the Internet Disney movie DisneyJohn C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are back as Ralph and Vanellope. Hijinks ensue and new friendships are forged as the two race against time to save Vanellope’s game.

It’s easy to be wary of Disney or Pixar sequels that look like instant cash grabs. (Do you remember “Pocahontas ll” fondly? How about “Cars 2“?) I went into “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” which changed its name from the very long-winded “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.” earlier this year, with the same hesitation because it’s the sort of Disney movie which doesn’t warrant a sequel. It’s fine on its own.

While at NYCC, directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, who worked on the first film, said they knew diving into a sequel could “slide into ‘Jaws 2’ territory” pretty quick, but they saw a lot of potential for comedy in sending Ralph and Vanellope to the internet. And they weren’t lying.

The original cast of “Wreck-It Ralph” return along with a handful of new faces. There are also many, many surprises (other than the Disney princesses who have been teased in marketing for the film).

What’s hot: Several new characters, including Gal Gadot’s Shank, the Disney princesses and other cameos, and Vanellope’s snarky attitude.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is two hours long (including credits), but it never feels it. The animated film is fast-paced and keeps the plot moving along very quickly, like someone surfing the web from one website to the next.

I was mostly worried the sequel would rely too heavily on a popular clip released to get butts in seats. You’ve probably seen the scene. It includes Vanellope meeting all of the other Disney princesses.

Disney princess wreck it ralphDisney AnimationThis is definitely one of the film’s best scenes for so many reasons.

While it’s definitely a highlight of the film, and the princess group appears more than onc, “Wreck-It Ralph 2” doesn’t need them to carry the film. There are plenty of other unexpected cameos I won’t spoil here along with so many other new, fun characters. So while the princesses will be a topic of discussion after the movie’s over, it’s not the only thing that will be fresh in your mind. Audiences are going to spend a lot of time trying to spot all of the video game characters and other Disney-owned characters who make appearances.

Similarly, Moore and Johnston bring the internet to life in a way that will make you try to see every real-world reference embedded in the film. Some of them are nods to real places like eBay and Amazon, but others are mashups of real entities like BuzzzTube (a combination of Buzzfeed and YouTube).

It could have been very easy for the film to collapse in on itself with a very meta reference to a popular Disney site that appears in the film (OhMyDisney). It’s a little bit eye roll-worthy since it’s shameless self promotion not only for its site, but also for many of its brands; however, it’s done so well that it actually makes you want to see Disney’s many characters collaborate more.

Ohmydisney wreck it ralphDisney AnimationDisney’s fictional website, OhMyDisney, comes to life inspired by both Comic Con and Disney’s D23.

If you’re bothered by the obvious Disney tie-in, the movie has a lot of sharp and witty social commentary not only on how the internet is used, but on things like clickbait, the dark web, and viral videos. It makes it pretty tough to do anything but laugh along with how Disney aptly points out our daily habits – often on the nose. Ralph and Vanellope both deliver many of these big laughs as they navigate the foreign landscape of the web.

Many of the new characters they come across are also a welcome addition. The main highlight is Gal Gadot’s Shank, a queen of the street-racing road. She instantly becomes a role-model figure for feisty racer Vanellope. Shank instantly brings Gadot’s “Fast and Furious” character, Gisele, to mind. Her crew and the video game they’re a part of resemble something out of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Shank group ralph breaks the internetDisney AnimationShank and her crew look like they stepped out of a ‘Mad Max’ movie.

Alan Tudyk, who’s quickly becoming Disney’s good luck charm with cameos in every Disney animated film since Wreck-It Ralph (watch out John Ratzenberger), plays a delightful personified version of Google search called KnowsMore. You’ve probably seen him in trailers. Fun fact: He played King Candy in the first “Wreck-it Ralph.”

Knowsmore ralph breaks the internetDisney AnimationHe kind of reminds me of the owl from old Tootsie Pop ads. Another fun fact is that every part of KnowsMore is 3-D animated except for his eyes, which are traditionally 2-D animation.

Taraji P. Henson’s Yesss is a standout as head algorithm of a trend-making website. Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) and Sergeant Calhoun (Jane Lynch) also have a fun subplot revisited throughout the movie when they adopt a bunch of kids.

Yesss taraji p hensonDisney AnimationThe ‘Empire’ actress wears many different looks and hairstyles throughout the film to keep up with what’s trending.

One thing I kept wondering while watching was whether or not Disney will release some of these games for people to play. I’d love to see a real-life version of Shank’s game, “Slaughter Race.” After the first movie was released, Disney released an app featuring mobile games shown in the film, including “Fix-It Felix.” The game must have been popular because you can still find it in arcades.

What’s not: The predictability and a moment where the movie may have jumped the shark.

There isn’t a lot to dislike here, but “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a pretty predictable movie. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s the very reason I can’t say the sequel is better than the original film.

Ralph breaks internetDisney AnimationRalph and Vanellope meet Shank.

In the original, the reveal of King Candy is both a difficult one and heartbreaking reveal to top. If you’re an adult paying attention throughout this film, there are so many hints dropped to let you know where the final act of the movie is going. That’s where the film lost me for a little.

I enjoyed every moment of this sequel up until the final leg when a pivotal moment occurs with Ralph. For a good few minutes, the light comedy takes a dark turn and feels like a mini-horror movie. The resulting end message is valuable to show how toxic a relationship or friendship can become when there aren’t some boundaries, but the road to getting there is a little bumpy and creepy. Even in the film’s art book, which INSIDER received a copy of, the directors refer to the reveal of a character as “gross” and “grotesque.”

Overall: See this one with the family over the holidays.

If you have to choose between this and “The Grinch,” go with Disney. Nothing against Universal’s animated film, which is fine, but “Ralph” has more frequent, larger laughs, a lot of cameos kids – and adults – will love, and a solid message for how friendships evolve over time.

Don’t forget to stay through the credits until the very, very end for a fun scene which should make you giggle.

Grade: A-

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is in theatres Wednesday, November 21. Watch a trailer below.

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