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Directors of ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ explore toxic life online

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ralph breaks the internet 2 disney
“Ralph Breaks the
Internet.”

Disney

  • Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” directors Rich Moore and
    Phil Johnston told Business Insider how they delved into the
    love/hate relationship people have with the internet.
  • “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is the sequel to the 2012 movie,
    “Wreck-It Ralph.”
  • This is not the first time Moore and Johnston have explored a
    serious social issue in a movie. They were behind the
    Oscar-winning “Zootopia,” which looked at racism.

 

Wreck-It Ralph has just gone viral.

Well, not in real life, but in “Ralph Breaks the Internet”
(opening November 21), the sequel to Disney’s 2012 animated movie
that’s named after the villain of the fictional Fix-It Felix Jr.
1980s arcade game.

This time Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is inside the internet
to help his best friend, and fellow arcade character, Vanellope
(Sarah Silverman), get a steering wheel off eBay to fix her game.
To pay for it, Ralph learns if he just films himself doing a
bunch of dumb things and posts them online, millions will watch
and he’ll make money. His videos are so successful Ralph becomes
the latest internet hit while also earning some coin.

But as anyone who has been online knows, internet popularity
usually leads to a lot of anguish, and Ralph learns that
firsthand when he stumbles across the comments section.

Ralph stares at a long wall of comments about himself and reads
as it quickly goes from positive, to negative, to down right
hurtful.

It’s the latest exploration by Disney of a cultural issue its
audience experiences (or at the very least, knows about). And it
should come as no surprise that the people behind this are the
same ones who did “Zootopia.”

Rich Moore and Phil Johnston teamed as directors on “Ralph Breaks
the Internet” after Moore took sole directing duties for
“Wreck-It Ralph” in 2012 and Johnston wrote the screenplay. Moore
was also one of the directors on the Oscar-winning “Zootopia,”
which was written by Johnston, and got a lot of attention for one
of the movie’s main themes: looking at racism and bigotry through
the lens of an animal metropolis where all different species must
get along.


ralph breaks the internet disney
“Ralph Breaks the
Internet.”

Disney

The two admitted they didn’t set out to make “Ralph Breaks the
Internet” so they could shed a light on how we all treat each
other on the internet. It just kind of happened through the years
of trying to figure out what they wanted to do for a sequel.

“When the movie came out in 2012, I always thought, ‘God, it
would be great to work with everyone together again,’ but there
was no idea for a story,” Moore told Business Insider. “I would
say a year after it opened we seriously said, ‘What could a
second chapter be about?’”

Read more:

“Creed II” escapes a sequel slump with thrilling fight scenes
and a gripping performance by Michael B. Jordan

One idea was to put Ralph in a modern gaming system and see what
kind of trouble he could get into. But then came the idea of
Ralph discovering what a WiFi modem is and eventually becoming so
jealous of the internet that he would set out to destroy it.

“For many months, that was our movie,” Moore said of Ralph
intentionally destroying the entire internet.

“But it’s not something we wanted to root for, we love the
internet,” Johnston said. “So we changed it to him inadvertently
ruining it.”

Yet, what would cause Ralph to break the internet by mistake?
That’s where the filmmakers decided to explore how people treat
each other online.

Using what they did on “Zootopia” — mixing a fun caper with a
serious issue — along with delving deeper into the friendship of
Ralph and Vanellope than the first movie, they explore how toxic
the internet can be.

Outside of the comment thread that Ralph comes across, annoying
pop-up ads and the “dark web” are also negative elements of the
web that are featured in the movie.

The trick though is never preach to the audience.


Phil Johnston Rich Moore Alberto E Rodriguez Getty
(L-R) “Ralph Breaks the
Internet” directors Phil Johnston and Rich
Moore.

Alberto E.
Rodriguez/Getty


“Dealing with heavy issues, serious issues, we never want to tell
an audience how they should live their lives or what they should
do,” Moore said. “Our feeling is it’s always better to watch a
character experience the things that we do and then show how that
character rises above it. What steps they took to be an authentic
human being.”

“Ralph at his core is an insecure guy,” Johnston said.
“Ultimately, the movie is about him overcoming that insecurity in
order to be a better friend and better person, [and] the internet
is a great place to test that stuff.”

At the end of the day, Moore and Johnston want audiences to be
entertained when they go to see “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and
not feel like they are suddenly sitting in a sociology class, but
as they proved with “Zootopia” that there’s room for social
commentary in Disney movies.

“This is something where we thought it’s really worth taking a
look, but it’s not our job to say the internet is good or bad,”
Johnston said. “It just is.”

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