Director: Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson
Have I Seen it Before: It definitely represents a trend in animated sequels, but no, I missed it in the theaters.
Did I Like It: Look…
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the sequel to Wreck it Ralph (2012). The humor is on-point, if—at times—a little like grabbing for low-hanging fruit when it comes to the mercurial nature of the internet. The action set pieces and other animation are clever, as are the sequences involving the bevy of Disney Princesses…
And that might be part of the problem. Far be it for me to drag someone for thinking too much and feeling too little in the context of a story, but I think lthe problem here is that the original had such a perfectly constructed emotional through-line for its main character. In the original film, Ralph (Reilly) must come to accept who he is if he is to ever hope to be the person—and have the life—he wants.
That’s powerful stuff for any movie, much less one aimed at children that—when you scratch away enough layers—is ultimately an exercise in advanced brand synergy. Here, the closest we get to an emotional arc is the need for Ralph to be a more supportive friend. It’s along the same lines of what happened in The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019), where the incisive deconstruction of the nature of creativity is sidelined by a message for kids to be nicer to their siblings. It’s a fine ideal, and I suppose it may be unfair for every movie in a franchise to try to re-wrinkle my brain, but I can’t not remark on the fact that—while not embarrassing and still quite entertaining—things just aren’t the same any more.
However, if the film’s loftier ideas can somehow be incepted into a generation of children through an otherwise entertaining picture, then that might actually have a positive impact on human society, so who am I to really judge? Maybe it’s far better than I’m giving it credit.