This Thanksgiving, families can join Ralph and Vanellope on a crazy adventure through the world wide web in Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet. At a recent press conference in Beverly Hills, the cast and creative team reunited in advance of the world premiere to discuss the film and answer questions. Why the Internet? According to Director Rich Moore, “[It’s] the perfect place for a character who’s insecure about himself.”
“We looked at the last line of the first movie where Ralph says… ‘If that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?’ And it seemed at the time so sweet, it’s a wonderful sentiment, but then as we continued to kind of pick at it, we said that’s really, really dysfunctional. That this guy is defining himself by what his best friend thinks. And it’s a great best friend, but what if she were not to like him someday? What would that lead to?”
John C. Reilly returns as the voice of Ralph and added his own perspective to the discussion. “The internet is this literally infinite landscape… there’s a lot of really fun metaphors that are also played with in the film and this idea that the arcade is like the childhood arena of their friendship and the Internet represents the sort of larger world beyond as they grow and mature and Ralph’s not… Ralph really works so hard to get a friend in that first one. He’s like ‘Got it, rest of life solved.’ And then Vanellope starts to grow and mature and realizing that she wants to feel like she belongs somewhere and it’s not her candy game. So I think a lot of kids and adults are finding a lot of things that they can relate to in terms of the way relationships evolve. I think there’s something here for a lot of people and certainly a lot of jokes that operate on a lot of levels.”
John C. Reilly’s passion for this film was evident in the way he talked about the subject matter “The Internet is the central issue of our time. Our relationship to this technology, its power and its effect on us, we don’t even quite understand yet. It’s as powerful as a nuclear bomb but uses other means. So it was really exciting in the context of an entertaining Disney film to talk about some of these issues in a really real way. You know, its effect on people, why do we crave the anonymous acceptance of people we don’t know? All of this stuff. The way we’re bombarded with commerce on the Internet. So we made this fun, entertaining story, but I think… you come away from this film thinking about some of the most important issues of our time.”
One of the ways the film handles Internet culture is through a character named Yesss, voiced by Taraji P. Henson. “She’s a go-getter, she’s the head of a company, you know, she’s no nonsense, she has heart. My favorite scene is when Ralph finds himself in the comment section, in the comment room, and she comes and she tells him it’s not you, it’s them. They’re mean, they’re hurt so they’re hurting you. It grounded the film for me and it grounded the character for me. Made her multidimensional and then getting to voice with amazing actors, it’s just a no brainer for me.”
Speaking of amazing voice actors, Sarah Silverman revealed the unique recording process for Ralph Breaks the Internet that most animation studios don’t attempt. “We get to record together… we get to improvise, they give us a lot of freedom, we collaborate a lot and the script itself is so fantastic and it’s really fun. I think they always book about maybe an extra hour of time that they need because we get real chatty.”
“It was a real treat to get into the studio again with Sarah,” John C. Reilly added. “In a way our friendship has aged five years since the last film so it tracks in a way with Ralph and Vanellope… It was a real treat to be able to start at a place of real intimacy with Sarah… And we built these stories and these characters together so that when it came time to start this one we could start from a very advanced place in terms of the kinds of conversations we could have about the relationships and all that and you can really see that in the film.”
Sarah Silverman may not be known for her singing, but Vanellope does get her own Disney Princess-style “I Want” song courtesy of a Disney Legend. “It was a dream come true, I couldn’t believe it. When [the directors] told me I was going to have a song, we had already been recording for a while and I couldn’t believe it. You know, the music was written by Alan Menken and I got to meet him and work with him and rehearse with him and he played “Somewhere That’s Green” for me to sing from my favorite, he wrote Little Shop of Horrors, my favorite. And of course he’s like this Disney icon of iconic songs. It was incredible. And we recorded with a whole orchestra, you know, like you see in old timey movies. It was crazy, it was really the thrill of a lifetime.”
Ralph gives of himself so selflessly to support Vanellope’s dreams in the film, echoing the lyrics to the Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up,” an Internet tradition that is hidden in the film. “That was reverse engineered actually,” John C. Reilly explained. “I think it occurred to everyone that that song did apply in that way to the movie because it was a very late addition. I think it might have been a joke that we just came up with… and then that song is everywhere in our trailers and stuff.”
The film’s title caused a bit of controversy and Rich Moore had no problem settling the debate regarding what the sequel should’ve been called. “It’s one of those conundrums where no matter what you call it, someone’s going to say ‘Well, shouldn’t it be Ralph Breaks the Internet’ since that’s the expression? And since we liked that it had a dual meaning… we thought well let’s go with that. Let’s go with Ralph Breaks the Internet knowing that there would be backlash.”
Is it possible that we will see these characters again? Rich Moore shared his thoughts to close out the press conference. “Like the first one, we’re at that point where we feel like it’s buttoned up nice and clean. There can not possibly be another story after this one and that’s what we thought on the first one. So unless we start digging at this and find that there’s some sort of opportunity to be mined, I think right now it feels as if they’re great companion pieces and it kind of ends here.”
Ralph Breaks the Internet will wreck the box office starting November 21st.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.