Ralph Breaks the Internet – Flail Against the Machine
New York magazine|May 10 - 23, 2021
In the robot apocalypse, the family that logs off together stays together.
By Bilge Ebiri

Animated films often try to reflect the aesthetics of our culture. That can be a dodgy endeavor: For every Ralph Breaks the Internet, we usually get several Emoji Movie–style disasters. Which makes the cluttered, go-for-broke distract-a-thon of The Mitchells vs. the Machines that much more impressive. Here is a picture whose mixed-media cacophony leaves every other movie in pixelated dust. It is filled with Instagram filters and gifs and emoji and memes and freeze-frames and flying blocks of text, and at times it can’t seem to stick to a single story thread for more than a minute. But its emotional design and trajectory are crystal clear, and the chaos feels like part of a grand plan.

Even the plot is cobbled together from a number of other popular movies, which makes sense given the generally spoofy quality of the whole enterprise. Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) is a college-bound film nerd who loves to make goofy videos featuring her dinosaur-obsessed younger brother, Aaron (voiced by director and co-writer Michael Rianda), and their adorable mutt, Monchi. Earnest, eager-to-please mom Linda (Maya Rudolph) and klutzy, outdoorsy loser dad Rick (Danny McBride) just don’t understand their daughter. On the eve of Katie’s leaving home for good, her father tosses the girl’s plane ticket and organizes a cross-country road trip for the whole family to drive her to college instead. Katie, needless to say, is mortified.

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