Review – If It Ain’t Broke… (“Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet”)

In a gratuitous and shameless self-promotion of themselves and other websites, this flagrant and unapologetic Disney cash-grab movie markets every Disney princess, the Muppets, Star Wars, Marvel, Ebay, etc., while showcasing even MORE online sites! Egads! This movie should’ve been called Product Placement: the Movie!

Remember Ralph from Wreck-it Ralph? He’s that burly video game character who ‘went turbo’ (left his game) and, not only saved a rascally little girl named
Vanellope Von Schweetz from being deleted, but became a better person for it. Well, it’s six years later and Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have become bosom buddies. Ah, but there’s trouble when Vanellope’s video arcade steering wheel breaks in two! Uh-oh! Without a replacement wheel, her machine (and HER), are headed for the scrap heap! Solution? Take a road trip into the internet to find a replacement wheel on Ebay!

Jumping onto a WiFi signal, the two are zapped into the chaotic and colorful dimension of the world wide web, complete with every conceivable website you can think of… although Facebook is conspicuously missing. Huh. Naturally, not quite knowing how Ebay works, they outbid another online human for the McGuffin… I mean, the steering wheel and win it, but for a staggering $27,001! Uh-oh! So where can they get that kind of cash fast? Spam, of course!

Getting some help from a Mr. Spamley (Bill Hader), they try to make some click-bait money by stealing a car from the online game, Slaughter Race, but they get trounced by their leader, the very hot and wicked-cool driver, Shank (Gal Gadot). Needless to say, Vanellope is star-struck with Shank and the no-holds-barred dangerous aspect of the game. Ralph sees another way to earn the money, and that’s Buzzzfeed! Humans click on him doing idiotic things on video vines so he can make some serious cash, but first Vanellope must navigate through the best part of this movie: she visits the Oh My Disney! pavilion and meets all 14 Disney princesses!

This part really should have been expanded beyond it’s short cameo with Vanellope all the girls, because it’s riotous, irreverent, and leaves you begging for more. I seriously wanted SO much more, I didn’t care about the rest of the film! Setting up your standard “second act break-up to a third act reconciliation” trope, Ralph gets jealous that Vanellope may leave him for another game and decides to sabotage Slaughter Race with a virus. Yes, it all gets very heavy-handed in the end, with heaping helpings of ‘adult’ creeping into this otherwise kiddie-friendly movie.

The screenplay by director Phil Johnston (Wreck-it Ralph) and Pamela Ribon (Smurfs: The Lost Village) has a lot of heart to it, but perhaps a little too much heart. While the humor is aimed at the kiddies, the content is laden with dollops of adult themes, more so than the first film, which was mostly all fun & games. The kids in the audience laughed at all the goofiness, but it preached its “message” with a heavy control stick towards the end. Then there was the obvious lengthy storyline problem which seemed forced at times, especially in act two. I won’t even touch on all the gaping plot holes.

The direction by Johnson and Rich Moore tried to move the action quickly, but the sluggish side stories bogged-down the action and could have been trimmed (or dropped completely) with some editing. All in all, this sequel does have its moments and I found myself LOL at many of the crazy antics: the Disney Princesses, Vanellope breaking into song, and the whole Slaughter Race world which was, again, worthy of its own film.    

Foodfight! (2012)

In the annals of bad straight-to-DVD’s, this is quite possibly the worst of the worst. The production values are horrifically bad, the writing is just plain awful, the story is stupid, and the main characters are, in many cases, disturbing looking and racist. The marketers even tried to get the rights to certain brand names but, unable to do that, came up with visual rip-offs that are both laughable and cringe-worthy!

It’s after hours in a Marketropolis supermarket when it transforms into a city where the citizens (well-know brand names of cereal, candy, etc.) are personified. Here we meet Dex Dogtective (voiced by Charlie Sheen), saving kittens and telling his odd-looking squirrel friend, Daredevil Dan (Wayne Brady), that he is about to ask his girlfriend, Sunshine Goodness (Hillary Duff–as a very creepy looking cat/human hybrid) to marry him. However, problems arise and Sunshine disappears.

Meanwhile, truly disturbing looking and crazy Mr. Clipboard (Christopher Lloyd), the Brand X rep. tries to persuade the Marketropolis manager (Ed Asner) to stock HIS products instead! Horrors! Back at the Copabanana Club, Dex talks to the Brand X leader, Lady X (Eva Longoria), but a fight breaks out. But when Lady X drops in on Dex later, she attempts to seduce him, while using him as an alibi when a bunch of foodies are found dead. As new Brand X products quickly start to replace known brand icons (Mrs. Butter-worth, Charlie the Starkist Tuna, etc), Dex suspects Lady X who tries to bring him over to her side.

Dex refuses and, not only finds his missing buddy Dan, but the secret ingredient in Brand X is addictive and toxic to humans! A huge battle ensues with all the food brands fighting the forces of Brand X evil troops, led by General X (Tim Curry). Once defeated, human-sized Mr. Clipboard enters their world and (surprise!!) he’s a robot controlled by Lady X bend on world conquest. Sunshine finally gets a chance to kick her butt in a fight where Lady X reverts to her true self: an ugly old prune-looking witch-thingy.

With a host of name voice-over actors and a whopping $65 million budget, the real question was: what was money used for? Someone must’ve pocketed it! Screenwriters Sean Catherine Derek, Lawrence Kasanoff, Brent Friedman, and Rebecca Swanson (who were all heavily medicated at the time) wrote this utter piece of crap, only to be usurped by the flagrant disregard for any direction by Kasanoff. And those atrocious graphics? Computer company Threshold and Korea’s Natural Image did those, setting back CGI ten years in the process with some of THE worst looking graphics imaginable.

THEN there was rumors of “industrial espionage”, not to mention the movie’s overt pandering to children with obvious product placement. The horrible dialogue had sexual double-entendres and it received every negative critical review possible. This is one extremely horrible kiddie film that has to seen to be appreciated for all it’s badness. For extra fun, go to YouTube and watch the Nostalgia Critic’s hilarious review of this movie.

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