Meta-humour is greatly on the rise. The age of the internet has made all types of media easily accessible to many people, so meta-humour (humour that breaks the fourth wall) is easily understood and more appreciated because it makes the audience feel special when recognizing jokes. Recent movies like The Lego Movie and Deadpool have taken advantage of it to great success, and audiences have welcomed it with open arms, since it’s being seen as a fresh type of humor.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is a perfect example of meta-humour, with all it’s advantages and disadvantages. The first Wreck-It-Ralph has a very retro vibe and relies on references from popular video games that have stood the test of time, which helps the movie stand on two feet.
However, Ralph Breaks the Internet trades the old references for brand new ones, and constantly makes fun of the internet, gender tropes, corporatization, memes and more. While this humor can be hilarious, it can really affect the movie in the long run, as it hurts the movie’s ability to stand the test of time. Jokes about Fortnite and viral videos may not work as effectively in the future. Also, if the movie relies on these references too much, it fails to rely on the writing to create humour. Ultimately, this oversaturated the movie with lazy humour crammed into every nook and cranny of the entire film.
In the movie, there is a lot of set up to hype up the protagonists' entrance into the internet. But, once the initial humour from internet references wears out, the plot and characters have very little to stand on, which also makes all the previous build up feel like wasted time. This is another example of why meta-humour can hurt a movie. Humour can be an extremely useful tool for character development, plot progression, and hiding exposition. Through it can definitely enhance a character, (just look at Deadpool) meta-humor is mostly just a one off. Too many of these jokes requires a sacrifice in other elements of the movie.
You’ll notice that Disney movies are usually timeless because they don’t rely on current references when telling a story. Cinderella, Inside Out, Frozen all rely on things that make us human. The emotions, the interactions, the laughs, things every person can relate too. That’s what creates a classic.
The same cannot be said of Ralph Breaks The Internet. It’s a cute movie that is able to barely stand on its own for now. However, due to the type of humour it employs it will be forgettable, unlike its original, which will definitely stand the test of time.