Can you imagine a world where every child is paired with a robotic best friend from a box who is programmed to help them make friends? I guess it depends on your perspective on technology. When you are a (more than a) bit of a robophobe like me, you probably find just the thought of the scenario terrifying! Can you imagine investing the future of human-to-human connection in machines? I promise…this article will not just be a crazed and paranoid rant. But I do have to say one thing…it does make for a fascinating premise of a movie. 20th Century Studios thought the same thing and that is how audiences will be treated to this new charming, animated film, Ron’s Gone Wrong.
What do screenwriters Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith do to capitalize on this interesting premise? The broad idea of this premise is set up in the opening moments by an optimistic young tech guy (Justice Smith) and a money hungry corporate man (Rob Delaney). Then the film whisks the audience away to a small town and a young boy named Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer). Barney lives a quiet and lonely life without technology and just his workaholic dad (Ed Helms) and his quirky and protective Eastern European grandmother (Olivia Colman). Barney feels the pressure of not having a “Best Friend Right Out of the Box” like literally everyone else in his school. But when his family buys a defective version, craziness ensues! The film portrays a genuine and sweet journey for Barney and his new companion Ron (Zach Galifianakis). There are plenty of familiar beats along the way but the genuine heart that is packed into this story makes for plenty of fun and enjoyment. You know where the story is going but unfortunately the story reaches a bit too far as the third act turns into a bigger fourth act that felt unnecessary.
But what makes this animated feature so much fun? The biggest highlight of the film certainly is the committed and wry performance of Galifianakis. His dry wit and one point delivery make even the most mundane lines hilarious. There are plenty of absurd situations and killer lines of dialogue along the way for Ron and he delivers so many laughs. Speaking of absurd and funny characters…Colman’s Donka is a close second with her crazy perspectives and oddly violent tendencies. The rest of the cast do a fine job too including Delaney’s smug and greedy business jerk. There are a few sequences in the film that are absurd perfection like a scene on the playground and all the robo friends go rogue. You can tell that a screenwriter with adult sensibilities (Baynham) contributed to this film and especially this scene.
What helps elevate Ron’s Gone Wrong above just another fun little animated flick for kids? As stated before, the humor delivers…again…again…and again. But there is some strong commentary going on when it comes to social media and modern relationships. There are a few times that are honestly quite biting. It seems like 2021 is the year for animated films that deliver commentary on technology and Ron’s Gone Wrong does some good work. The whole idea of children not making friends without the help of technology was particularly relatable and brutally honest. There are quite a few cutaways to the Bubble headquarters and the film focuses on the uneven power dynamic of the tech wiz and the business side of things.
Are you looking for a fun time that the whole family can enjoy? Do you want to get in some belly laughs along the way? Do you want to have some deep introspective thoughts about your relationship with other people and technology? Well Ron’s Gone Wrong can check all of those boxes!