We left our not-so-mean brick-breaker and the Fast and Furious Vanellope toasty warm in their arcade game machines. It is now on a larger scale that our duo will crack down in a Ralph 2.0 which attacks a world of a thousand and one possibilities: the internet. A universe that allows a lot, but which carries just as much risk of missteps. When the magic of Disney is confronted with a difficult subject, either we are entitled to a fireworks display, or a wet firecracker
If there was a continuation of Ralph’s Worlds, the internet was a necessary, logical, and desired passage. The tandem of directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston re-establishes and finds in the web the ideal playground for the new adventures of Ralph and Vanellope. Here, our friends must embark on the infinitely large to grab a rare spare to fix the pilot’s Sugar Rush.
The trailers announced the color to us: we were going to be entitled to a good dose of “meta-titude” between the major Internet firms and the studio. A desire confirmed by the duo of directors: “We wanted to put as many easter eggs as possible”. But beware, the trap of massive “name dropping” (the act of citing names, brands, institutions known to display one’s knowledge) is never far away.
We can nevertheless breathe. If there is a display of signs – special mention to eBay and BuzzTube aka YouTube – they are never free and are part of the story. For once, the entire film crew competed in their imagination to give us a glimpse of a teeming world where what we know comes to life in an original way.
From Twitter birds to the little search bar character to the comment room, the personification of this universe made of 1s and 0s is one of the film’s great successes. Same story with the new characters with Yesss, queen of BuzzTube or our favorite, Spamley, incarnation of our “dear” spam ads (those which offer you, among other things, to talk to scantily clad girls in your region ). By the way, the role suits Jonathan Cohen, voice actor of our French version.
Ralph 2.0, a commercial product?
Nevertheless, we regret the lack of interest around this universe. When we fall into voluntary name dropping, either we embark on the parody, or we use it to deliver a message, or both. Ralph 2.0 does both, but never in a punchy enough way to laugh or feel the impact.
Yes, eBay is a script element, but the use of the brand is ultimately more about product placement as it is repeated to excess. Funny two seconds, the references, too numerous, quickly become unpleasant, even unpleasant. A finding that can be applied to many meta uses of feature films. There seems to be a double talk denouncing both our use of the internet while, paradoxically, giving it credit. Perfect example, BuzzTube’s monetization streak assumes the idiocy of the thing, but never or only very timidly invalidates it.
There is a kind of restraint in this desire to make fun of the internet, of refusing to position itself so as not to offend anyone, which prevents Ralph 2.0 from imposing its own mark on our minds. The dark web is thus like the film: too wise. We miss the madness of a Phil Lord and a Chris Miller (The LEGO Great Adventure).
Disney to the rescue
It will take a visit to Disney for the footage to finally seem more comfortable. At home, the studio finally gives permission to laugh openly and, as a teaser in the promo, the princess moment is indeed one of the best in the film. A sequence that has undergone many modifications as the directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston have told us, but several iterations of which should be found in the video cake.
Once rid of the nods to friends, Ralph 2.0 seems moreover liberated, delivered, and finds a new breath by taking an interest in his real subject: friendship. Better treated, less clumsy than in the first part, the theme leads to a reflection that everyone will appreciate or not according to their own convictions. For Phil Johnston, the message, although melancholy, nonetheless remains “a reflection of life”, proof of a certain maturity.
Obviously we should not forget the excellent work on animation – a constant at Disney – which gives rise to a much more generous and ambitious result in its staging. We savor every detail, every place, every new character and, without spoiler, the ending offers us a visual slap or two. And just in principle, seeing so many figures from the net, including our two heroes, united within the same graphically coherent organization, it shows a certain talent that deserves to be saluted. We must remember that in the end, no matter what our opinion, only children’s enjoyment prevails here, and we have no doubts for a single second that they will find something to have a good time there.