The problem with making any movie about technology is that it changes so fast that movies are in eternal danger of becoming outdated before they even come out. It kind of doesn’t matter–things can just be fun for right now, after all–but it does become funny when you’re an adult and you watch the movies of your childhood when they’re playing ancient video games or using ancient tech. It applies to books, too–one of my favourites as a kid was Space Demons by Gillian Rubinstein, and while a book doesn’t stop being good just because it’s out of date, it’s kind of hilarious now. Imagine what video games were like in 1985. Those days, it seemed entirely unlikely to get sucked into a pixelated video game, but these days, it’s hard to tell the difference between video games and reality. So when a movie comes out that’s about all the very cool things happening on the internet right now, will it still be good in the future? Or will it be good for kids who don’t have access to the internet because they’re too young or not allowed or not interested and don’t know all the ~kool memes~?
If you haven’t seen the first movie Wreck-It Ralph (which is very good), it’s about the lives of characters who live in vintage arcade games–namely, Ralph, who spends his days as an oversized bad guy destroying a giant building while the game’s good guy, Fix-It Felix, spends his days as a hero who constantly fixes the building. Everybody loves Felix, but who loves poor Ralph? Nobody, so Ralph goes on an adventure to become the hero of a different game, which is where he meets Vanellope von Schweetz, a tiny, glitchy racing car driver, and to summarise the rest of the movie in four words, they become best friends. In the new movie, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Vanellope and Ralph accidentally cause Vanellope’s arcade game to break in real life, and the only spare part that can fix it costs a bomb–and so the arcade’s owner decides he’ll throw out the game, which would leave all the characters homeless. To save the game, Vanellope and Ralph venture into the internet to find a way to get the spare part, but their quest may cause their friendship more problems than they’ve ever faced before.
This is a fun, bright, silly movie, where Google is a strange little man that tries to finish all your sentences for you (like autofill), and pop-up ads are annoying people who get in your face while you walk around, and Tweets are delivered by literal birds, and all other kinds of things that my six-year old probably enjoyed because it was bright but didn’t really understand because who under the age of sixteen is on Twitter? There are references to unboxing videos, and Fortnite (of course), and many things I’ve mostly forgotten about, because while it’s a story about the internet Right Now (or a year ago when most of this was made), it’s also a story about two friends who want different things, and how you can keep a friendship when your goals change. Ralph, who never had a happy life before Vanellope, wants things to change forever, but Vanellope herself just wants more–more racing, more adventures, more change. And when they realise this, things go pretty pear-shaped. It’s genuinely sad to see these characters at odds with each other, and the Internet really and truly will get broken by them fighting.
The references to the Dark Web (where the worst parts of the world unite) are a bit creepy, and when things go wrong it is a bit overwhelming and a touch scary, but not terrifying. My kid liked it enough, and there were some pretty great jokes, especially when the Disney princesses came on the scene, but I also felt like it was a bit rushed, and maybe didn’t get silly enough. Still, it’s a good enough holiday season for the movies, and I’d happily sit through it again, which my partner did, since he’s a teacher who took his students to see it for “work” (insert eyeroll emoji) but we still made him come see it with us a week later. The internet won’t really break from this movie, but you’ll have a lot of fun regardless.