Unpacking the Digital Age: Behind the Scenes of RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
This past weekend, Movieguide® attended a press conference for the new Disney animated movie RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET. The last time audiences saw Ralph, he was struggling with his identity as a villain in his arcade game. Fast-forward six years, audiences see Ralph and his friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) venture into the internet for a slew of adventures.
Actor/comedian John C. Reilly voices the title character Ralph in the movie and poignantly pointed out, “the internet is the central issue of our time, our relationship to this technology, its power, and its effect on us, we don’t quite understand yet.”
Taraji P. Henson (HIDDEN FIGURES) Plays Yesss, an internet savvy character who understands what makes videos go viral and helps return Ralph into an internet sensation in the movie. She spoke up about a scene where her character comforts Ralph after he sees negativity comments about him on the internet. Speaking of the trolls, she states that clearly, “they hurt… so they’re hurting you.”
Sarah Silverman reflected back on the early days of the Internet, “it was new for us”, but for children now, “it’s all they know. I wonder if that’s good or bad… It’s a very complicated relationship we all have [with the internet], and we have to try and find a healthy balance.”
Like Silverman, Reilly didn’t suggest and big antidote for an Internet or cleanse or things of the like, rather he just urged audiences to reflect on the motives of their hearts. “Why do we crave the anonymous acceptance of people we don’t know?” Reilly asked rhetorically. The actor explained he wants the story to not only entertain children and their families but also promote them to ask why they maybe do the things they do.
Reilly called it an “aha moment,” wanting people of all ages to realize that although the Internet does promote connection and fun in many cases, it can also come with a caveat of emptiness.
The panel, which included the directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, also share their own insecurities, as this is the major character arc for Ralph. Phil Johnston how he struggled with anxiety and depression for years, and Moore stated the importance of using movies to let people, particularly children, know that they’re not alone. Silverman shared how she’s passionate at letting girls know that they don’t have to dress certain ways to feel loved or accepted. The conversation got so deep that Reilly had to jokingly remind the panel that they’re there to talk about an animated children’s movie.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET comes to theaters on November 21. Check back soon for Movieguide®’s full review.