Nostalgia is a powerful tool in the modern filmmaking landscape, with the resurrection and continuation of countless film franchises that cinema goers grew up with every day. I have no problem with nostalgia being used to fuel the studios pockets, the more Star Wars the better in my opinion, but there is one thing that the nostalgia club has created recently, or at least further fuelled, and that is the use of pop culture-based references within film. Whether it be Ready Player One (which in all honestly basically revolves around the concept of nostalgia and references) or the dreaded Emoji Movie (eck even saying that title makes me want to wash my mouth out with soap), these films can be hit or miss. So, obviously I’m going to pick a trailer for a film that uses nostalgia and references, or why else would I have written that long winded intro? The trailer I wish to riff about today is the latest to dive-head first into nostalgia reference territory, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck it Ralph 2. Specifically, I want to speak about the princess trailer. Yes, the title of this trailer is just as long winded as my opening, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck it Ralph 2 Princess Trailer #1. Just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?
The trailer opens with Ralph announcing to Vanellope, “We’re going to the internet!” This is followed by shots of the duo flying down an ethernet cable into a stylised visualisation of the internet. Opening the trailer like this is fantastic, as it provides us with the premise of the film without spoiling any of the plot. For lovers of the first Wreck it Ralph such as myself, just this premise is enough to hook me into wanting to see the film. From here, we are treated with shots of the internet—my favourite of them being the gigantic Google skyscraper towering above all! These shots mostly focus on one key website, with loads of smaller references to others jammed into the background. Already, repeated viewings have me spotting something new every time. After the world is presented in glorious technicolour we are treated to a few main interactions. The first is a fantastic exchange between Ralph, Vanellope and an internet search bar with an overly aggressive autofill that beautifully satirises the over the top autocomplete functions you can get when just typing one world into your search engine of choice. Then, the references really go into full swing and Disney goes full on meta. Vanellope visits ‘Oh My Disney’ where she meets every Disney princess so far. I was surprised to learn that all the original voice actors for the princesses reprise their roles here, which had my partner giddy with excitement upon hearing the news. The interaction between Vanellope and the princesses is absolutely priceless as Disney satirises their own tropes in a brutally honest fashion leading essentially to what is a massive wink to the audience. The trailer caps off with a final bit of meta humour with Ralph and Vanellope debating the title of the film with a new character.
This trailer brings references upon references and was essentially built so that audiences could get hyped about the appearance of the Disney princesses before the film. My first viewing had me a little worried that they may have gone overboard, as we all know, all reference with no substance leaves a film shallow and meaningless. But with nostalgia and meta references being in vogue, I guess it makes perfect sense to build a trailer based solely around that portion of the film. With my second viewing I was able to see the substance, it may be a little more hidden away in this trailer, but I have faith that Ralph Breaks the Internet will be able to walk the tight rope and bring just as much substance as we found in the first film for their second outing.