Wreck-it-Ralph fans will delight in the return of loveable video game misfits Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz – the fearless duo taking a deep dive into cyberspace in Ralph Breaks the Internet.
In the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, the filmmakers have a lot fun exploring the internet when our heroes visit eBay in search of a new steering wheel for Vanellope’s busted video game, sending them into a dizzying world of familiar websites, social media haunts, and interminable cat videos.
But the film’s real stroke of genius is its comic sequence featuring 14 Disney princesses.
While Disney jealously guards its iconic characters, it’s almost hard to believe the filmmakers were allowed to pull off this stunt, gently sending up Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and company.
Certainly co-writer Pamela Ribon wasn’t sure she’d be permitted to import beloved classic characters into a contemporary environment, but was compelled to try out of loyalty to one character in particular.
“Vanellope is technically a princess, but hasn’t really been included among Disney royalty,” says Ribon. “Who wouldn’t want the Hoodie Princess in there? That’s my princess! I loved the idea of getting her into that club.”
In doing her homework, Ribon discovered many recurring characteristics within the Disney princesses. “I just wanted to make sure I got it right, so I asked which princesses were kidnapped, which were poisoned and which ones were cursed,” says Ribon, who eventually composed a scene which brought the princesses together in a room for the first time ever – to great comic effect.
Gathering together most of the original princess voice talent, Paige O’Hara, the voice of Belle from Beauty and the Beast, says, “My favourite part is the fun, tongue-in-cheek insider humour. It’s really funny but in a respectful, loving way. I think it walks a perfect line.”
Reprising her voice character of Rapunzel from Tangled, Mandy Moore adds, “I love seeing the princesses ‘off-duty’, relaxed and cozy in a way we’ve never pictured them before. It gives us a deeper glimpse into their lives and a peek behind the curtain.”
Underlining the surprising effect of this wacky Princess reunion, Idina Menzel, who voices her Frozen character of Elsa, asks, “When have all of the Disney princesses been together in one room? I don’t know if it gets better than that.”
The scene was a hit. “Putting Vanellope in a room with all of the Disney princesses was funny from the get-go, considering her unapologetic personality and laid-back outlook,” says Ralph Breaks the Internet’s co-director Phil Johnston.
Vanellope makes an impression on the princesses too, showing them the appeal of casual attire. Tasked with redressing the classic cast, art director Ami Thompson says, “I still can’t believe I got to design casual clothing for the Disney princesses. We wanted to incorporate modern style that reflects their individual stories – Cinderella’s t-shirt has a pumpkin carriage with ‘G2G’ for ‘got to go.’ Snow White’s jeans have an apple print. Merida’s tank top has a bear on it and reads ‘Mum.’ Everything is edgy and surprising with band-style shirts, flannels and chopper-style tees.”
Princess Aurora’s shirt declares her “Nap Queen,” Elsa’s shirt reads, “Just Let It Go,” while Snow White’s shirt features a poisoned apple. “It’s such a contrast to the elaborate gowns we’re used to seeing the princesses wear, now all dressed in Vanellope-inspired casual cozies,” says Thompson.
Not to be upstaged by Disney royalty, when STACK met with John C Reilly and Sarah Silverman – reprising their voice roles as ham-fisted Ralph and sugar-voiced Vanellope – they admit to sometimes taking their humour too far in the recording booth.
“They give us a lot of freedom to improvise,” says comic queen Silverman. “They always book us extra time because they know we’re gonna get real chatty. There’s definitely a very R-rated comedy album somewhere in the audio archives.”
Reilly likens his own friendship with Silverman to that shared by their animated alter egos. “There’s a lot of similarities – although Sarah’s not my only friend,” he quips.
“Ralph has always been a fish-out-of-water character which is a lot of what we played with in the first film six years ago,” continues Reilly. “But this film takes that notion to a whole new level with the infinite landscape of the internet. I think a lot of kids, and adults, will relate to the themes of how relationships evolve.”