Ralph Breaks the Internet

Six years ago, bad guy Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) turned good guy and saved the arcade. Now, he and smart-aleck side-kick, Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), find out that there is an Internet connection into the arcade and a whole new set of adventures are in store when “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

Laura's Review: B+

When Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) laments that her game Sugar Rush has gotten predictable, her best buddy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) enlivens it with a daunting detour. Unable to control Vanellope inside Mr. Litwak's (voice of Ed O'Neill) arcade, her player unintentionally breaks the vintage game's steering wheel. When she finds the replacement part on eBay, Litwak sadly declines, its cost more than the game takes in. With the Sugar Rush's retirement looming, Ralph intends to save the day by procuring the part, but in the process "Ralph Breaks the Internet." Cowriter (with Pamela Ribon)/directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore ("Wreck-It Ralph") have pulled off a rarity, constructing an extraordinary sequel for their mediocre original. While the video game world offered all kinds of opportunities for lively visuals, opening that up to the entirety of the Internet, including Disney's own marketing sites, has produced a wealth of technology puns, jokes and sight gags and material ripe for parody. To top it all off, "Ralph Breaks the Internet" is not only clever, but genuinely moving, its lessons on selfless friendship (and reaching for our dreams!) singing in more than one note. The gung-ho Ralph and trepidatious Vanellope plunge into the eye-popping Internet (it's like the animated opening of HBO's 'Silicon Valley' scaled by thousands), they're not sure where to turn until Vanellope spots the KnowsMore (voice of Alan Tudyk) kiosk, impressing Ralph with her intuitive ability and the search engine with her manners. With only one result returned, the duo are zipped right off to eBay right near where the object of their desire is being auctioned off. The only problem is the video game characters think like games and, only intent on winning, Ralph bids $27,001.00. With 24 hours to come up with the cash or lose their item, they quickly respond to a get-rich-quick pop-up ad named Mr. Spamley, who deals in reselling game winning treasures. Vanellope asks for a high ticket item to pursue and is steered towards Shank's car, worth $40K. This leads the two to Slaughter Race, a video game that is a 180 degree turn from Sugar Rush. Ralph is terrified by its scorched earth environment and tough, tatted racers, but Vanellope is in her element racing a more dangerous game. Unfortunately for Ralph, what he gave her a taste of in her own back yard now demands a bigger helping. And although they ultimately fail to steal Shank's car, Vanellope and its owner Shank (Gal Gadot) form a mutual admiration society, Shank shooting an amusing video of Ralph designed to go viral, sending them off to her friend BuzzzTube head algorithm Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) to monetize it. This section of the film is its best, Ralph blowing up on the Internet in one crazy video after the next, collecting hearts from his audience as Vanellope makes herself useful as click bait. Wandering the Internet, she stumbles onto Disney's site and the studio has a field day with their own brands, Buzz Lightyear, Star Wars Stormtroopers, Baby Groot and Eeyore all making appearances before the film's funniest piece, in which Vanellope and Disney's entire cadre of princesses (Pochahontas, Ariel, Moana, Cinderella, Aurora, Anna, Elsa, Jasmine, Merida, Rapunzel, Belle, Snow White, Tiana and Mulan) trade tips. As the princesses relax in loungewear, they inspire the glitchy Sugar Rusher to go after her dream by singing while gazing at an 'important' bit of water, the resulting 'A Place Called Slaughter Race' (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Johnston and Tom MacDougall) functioning as both parody and torch bearer. (Imagine Dragons' end credits song 'Zero' is truth in advertising, however, the film's one sour note.) Ralph's conundrum when he realizes he may be losing his friend provokes the titular catastrophe, clever conceptually if not visually. Johnston and Moore find just the right ending, capped with cheekily withheld parenting advice from Fix-It Felix (voice of Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch), who've adopted Sugar Rush's orphans. Grade:

Robin's Review: B+

I have to be honest, I knew little to nothing about Molly Ivins and her career, so I am very glad that documentary filmmaker Engels made her theatrical feature debut with the story of Molly and her fight against political corruption in Texas and beyond. That the lady had an incredible wit – she could have been another Lenny Bruce – makes listening to her Texas twang and her many stories a lot of fun. One of the many things I learned about Molly Ivins from this astute documentary is her quick wit and capable delivery (hence my Lenny reference). Of Texan congressman James B. Collins (Dallas-R), “If his IQ slips any lower we’ll have to water him twice a day.” On politics in Texas: “Texas politics is like Hungarian wine…it doesn’t travel well.” On Pat Buchanan’s speech during the 1992 Republican convention, it “probably sounded better in the original German.” The list goes on. Molly’s story is told with all of the baggage and personal trials that she faced – three bouts with cancer and a battle with alcoholism – along with her professional career that culminated in national syndication in 400 newspapers. That career, and her telling her stories about it and all the paths she crossed – George W. Bush, former Texas governor Anne Richards. Newt Gingrich, publisher Abe Rosenthal, Pat Buchanan, among many others – has the effect of putting you there with Molly as she made friends and enemies.