In the new blockbuster film Ralph Breaks the Internet, Disney looks both inward and outward, displaying some self-awareness of its long storytelling legacy and corporate identity, while also surveying the broader culture for popular elements significant enough to be included in a Disney movie. It is by far the most conscious movie in the studio's history, rivaled only by the Toy Story franchise, which originated outside the company.
The most high-profile meta-aspect of Ralph Breaks the Internet is the rightly celebrated Disney Princess scene, which features generations of princess characters sounding off about the frequent indignities that come with being kidnapped, poisoned by evil witches, tricked by suitors, and left to wait for heroic princes. And Disney fit in plenty of other nods to its other movies and characters, including Pixar favorites and Marvel heroes. But the best cameo in the movie has absolutely nothing to do with Disney or any of its subsidiary brands and is unlikely to have been noticed by a vast majority of its target audience.
About halfway into the movie, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and his pal Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) wander into the quasi-physical manifestation of Disney's consumer content website, Oh My Disney. While wandering around the digital wonderland, they stumble upon Baby Groot participating in a Q&A session with fans (you can guess each of his answers). One of the Funko-like characters asking a question — an appropriately confusing one about Marvel canon — is a guy with a beard, wearing a button-down shirt. The question is funny enough, but what makes it even better, for fans of comedy and the 2012 movie The Dictator, is that the person asking the question is voiced by Jason Mantzoukas.
Why is this funny? Well, as fans of comedy and 2012's The Dictator (along with shows like The League and the new film The Long Dumb Road) will tell you, "heynongman" has become Mantzoukas' accidental catchphrase, a slight verbal gaffe that has followed him since he uttered it on the 356th episode of Scott Aukerman's hit podcast, Comedy Bang! Bang!.
It was an entirely innocuous mistake, hardly even a mistake at all, and after a brief moment of poking fun at it, Aukerman and Mantzoukas continued their conversation about his difficult dating life. But it has since taken on a life of its own, becoming the basis of T-shirts and the excited screams from fans who are very enthusiastic about their niche interests. It's even become part of Mantzoukas' nickname during his frequent CBB appearances — he's called Jason Heynongmanzoukas when introduced by Aukerman.
The inclusion of Hey Nongman in a Disney animated movie — especially such a high-profile, self-conscious Disney movie — presents a lot of possibilities and questions. Does the single credited line mean that Hey Nongman is now officially Disney canon? It does, right? And if that's the case, is any other part of Comedy Bang! Bang! — a long-running podcast that also had an IFC show for five seasons — also Disney canon? If so, which characters make the cut? And do more Earwolf shows and characters also get doctored into the extended universe?
The movie does not answer any of these questions, but SYFY WIRE has reached out to Aukerman and director Rich Moore for clarification. We will update this story as word comes in.