Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sweet mother of monkey milk.

When we moved to Hawai'i back in the late eighties, the hotel that hired my dad also, perhaps obviously, hired a ton of other people, too. I guess you need more than just one pastry chef to open a 1,200 room hotel. Who knew?

Anyway, the condos we lived in? Well, it seemed like everybody was pretty much in the same boat: new transplants from all over, navigating the move to paradise from wherever the heck they were from prior. A couple of units down, were the Hay brothers - Dustin and Jared. They were from California, and their parents were hired to be the flippin' dolphin trainers of all things.

Though both a little bit older than I was, they would quickly become my best friends. Just not for forever.

While the Hays and I would remain friends for only a couple of years, it would appear that Ralph and Venellope are still going strong in Ralph Breaks the Internet, the follow up to the wildly successful 2012 original [review]. Despite the title conjuring images of sites that won't load (or the N in Netscape refusing to pulse), this clever sequel instead finds the giant-fisted goofball wrecking (and ralphing on) the thing he cares about most: his friendship.

After some unfortunate little girl wrecks their Sugar Rush cabinet (mostly because of Ralph's attempt to appease Vanellope), the racing game is unplugged and destined for the scrap yard. In order to save their home, Ralph and Venellope are going to need a new steering wheel. Turns out, there's one left...but it's only available on something known as eBay. So of course they do what any of us do when we need something: they head to the internet.

Seeing the world wide web brought to life in a Pixar film (as opposed to in something like The Emoji Movie [review], clearly the work of Satan) is something probably everyone should do, as it's equal parts amazingly adorable and impossibly clever. Like much of their previous work, Ralph Breaks the Internet walks that balance between being for kids and (or?) adults, and the cyberspace setting compliments that aspect even further. My kids got just as much joy out of seeing the little Twitter birds fly by as I did...though I'm not sure that's something I should say out loud.

The rub, if there is one, is that the heart of this film is comprised of the pitfalls of growing up, and even if it's handled delicately, it's a bit of a bummer at times. Kids, you know those friends you've longed for more than anything, well, here's a quick heads up: they're going to leave you, too. I'm not sure if they've made a movie about the exact moment your parents die, but maybe that'll be the plot of the next one, Ralph Cracks a Casket.

Mulan must have a game later or something?
Speaking of the worst things that could ever happen, here are the Yays and Boos. Since I have no friends, I occasionally forced by circumstance to talk to my (wife's) family, and her sister and husband, ardent fans of the original, thought this movie sucked. Do with that information what you will.

Ralph might be from an 80s arcade game, but that look is straight 90s.
  • I appreciate any film that dares tackle such serious issues as Zangief's shin hair. You'd think that would be a hazard working at a Russian...steel factory...or whatever the Hell that place is, but he seems to be doing just fine.
  • I've literally just described paradise. Ralph's version of living the dream isn't that that far from my own. Oooh, should this be a Boo?
  • Knowsmore, basically a web browser personified, is a pretty cool dude. I'm glad there's not a face to go along with what my browser suggests, because I'm sure it would be a woman. And she'd be pretty disappointed in what I'm looking up. Again.
  • So, I haven't really been on eBay in a long time, but if it looks anything like what it does here, well, I'm not living my life the right way.
  • I laughed way too loud at Ralph trying to smooth talk the characters in Slaughter Race
  • Speaking of, where can I get this game? It kind of looks like Twisted Metal, which for some reason isn't an annual release.
  • Even though I pretty much hate the things that everyone loves (though occasionally there's some really funny animal clips on Twitter, I'll admit), Ralph's reaction vids and random clips were pretty funny. 
  • Not sure which cameo I loved more...a certain baby tree, or a certain old man, but either way the coin lands it's a win.
  • And finally, even though they rightfully spoiled it in the trailer, the scene where Vanellope meets all the Disney princesses is absolute magic. From their fairly rad pajamas (yeah, I strung those three words together), Ariel's tendency to burst into song, all the way to Merida's indecipherable....frustrations? These two minutes are easily worth the price of admission.
Um, yeah. About this guy...

  • Aw, Twitter looks so happy and cute. Too bad it's one of the worst places on the planet.
  • Guys, your bid strategy is, in a word, horrendous.
  • I didn't think the Sugar Rush racer girls could be worse. Yep. I was wrong.
  • Ralph is so deperate and clingy, I thought I was watching a documentary about every single day I was in high school.
  • First rule of the internet: do not read the comments. Pixar, hittin' little kids with facts.
  • Oooh, that giant Ralph, made of lilttle Ralphs? Pure nightmare fuel.
  • I can't believe that I sat through this entire movie and was unable to recognize the voice of an angel. Actually, it's probably a good thing that I didn't know that was Gal Gadot. Probably would have blacked out otherwise.
  • And finally, Pixar movies have always had a certain timeless quality about them, and methinks this one, despite it's universal themes, isn't going to age all that well. Maybe that will be part of its charm a decade from now (like Sandra Bullock's goofiness in The Net), or maybe it will end up on the top shelf collecting dust with Wheezy. Or worse, on the bottom shelf with A Bug's Life.

Even though Jared was only a grade ahead of me, I always felt closer to his older brother Dustin, as he was funnier and way more laid back than his freckled baby brother. Foolishly, I thought me and this older dude would be friends forever, though in hindsight he was probably just letting a little kid hang around to be nice.

Honestly, even though it was almost thirty years ago, I can pinpoint the exact moment when it all fell apart. We were sitting in their living room, bouncing a min basketball off the wall, when Dustin put on yet another surf video. But this time, he fast forwarded through all the surfing parts.

I didn't say anything, but I didn't exactly get what he was doing. He stopped the VHS tape on the parts between the big wave highlights...the parts where the girls in bikinis were walking around on the beach. But that's the boring part, I thought. Who cares about that? I didn't understand what was happening at all.

For a couple of years, anyway. 


  1. Man, I will go to bat for A Bug's Life. That's still one of my top Pixar movies. I agree this one probably won't age well.

    Aside from the Princess thing, I really didn't care for this and I think a lot of the net jokes were lost on my son even though he seemed to enjoy himself.

    1. Hahaha...that's awesome that you're all about A Bug's Life. I think it gets unfairly shat upon, but outside of ALL the CARS films, it's near the bottom of my personal list. I do love me some Heimlich, though.

      My son liked it...until he saw Spider-Man. Then it was pretty much the way you feel about Shrek.