FILM REVIEW: Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021)

Rating: ★★★★

With social media dominating our lives, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing an emergence of stories that focus on how we connect with each other virtually. This is the case for Ron’s Gone Wrong, which is essentially about how society reacts when the latest bit of tech comes out.

We all know the answer to that: everyone goes wild and simply must have it, we’re no strangers to queues outside the Apple Store or demand for PS5s skyrocketing, as it’s become a normal part of our culture.

Ron’s Gone Wrong poses this question: what happens when a socially awkward middle-school kid has to try and fit in around him when everyone has the latest bit of tech, specifically, a virtual ‘friend’ called a B-Bot? Unsurprisingly the answer to this question is simply: he covets it and immediately wants one. But unfortunately for our protagonist Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer), when he does manage to get one gifted by his unsuccessful father, his has malfunctioned and behaves erratically. Typical.

As hilarious as it is for us to witness Barney’s B-Bot, affectionately nicknamed ‘Ron’ later on in the film, it causes some serious embarrassment for his owner. There’s some really great voice acting by Zach Galifianakis here as Ron fails to emulate the other B-Bots, even failing to properly understand voice commands to the point where he thinks Barney is called Absalom (a word which he declares in a confused manner every time he says it – hilarious stuff). Ron has indeed gone very wrong, he’s his own machine, much to the dismay of Barney who just wants to be like everyone else.

While the world’s B-Bots are going around ‘friending’ each other, downloading customisable skins, filming viral videos, and tailoring themselves to their owner’s individual interests, Ron is out there causing chaos. And soon enough, Barney finds himself connecting with Ron, this weird little B-Bot that can’t even properly connect to the internet. This is where the real fun begins and the film takes us on a journey to discover the true meaning of friendship. I promise this isn’t as cringey as it sounds.

The most impressive thing about Ron’s Gone Wrong is that it tells this story without making us hate technology, instead it’s a lesson in how we can use it in a much healthier way. At his core, Ron is still a bit of tech, but he’s very different from his other robots which actually makes him perfect for Barney. And just like every bit of technology, people become bored of it, but Ron’s consistent chaos and unpredictability means that he can give Barney what all the other B-Bots can’t: freedom.

Ron’s Gone Wrong is definitely tailored towards a younger audience, but it’s the kind of film I would recommend that parents must show their children. Ron is lovable and teaches a valuable lesson, in a very similar way to Baymax from Big Hero 6. These chaotic characters provide an equal amount of comedy and charm, while telling kids that it’s okay to be a little different, we’re not built to be carbon copies of each other. How boring would the world be if we were all identical?

This is also an important lesson for adults too, and there’s a real human element to Ron underneath his B-Bot shell. In life things go wrong, we make mistakes and things can never be perfect, something that can be difficult to accept when it looks like everyone on social media is having a blast. Ron doesn’t work properly, he can’t download skins or make friends online, and by definition that makes him useless as it goes against his purpose. But in his own crazy little way, he eventually starts to brighten up Barney’s life, proving you don’t need to be perfect all the time.

There’s not a lot to fault when it comes to this film, which also happens to be the feature-length animated debut for Locksmith Animation. It’s a thoroughly impressive cast list (seriously, Google who plays Donka and you might be surprised!) which tells an important story for a modern audience. By using themes such as social awkwardness and bullying, it’s the kind of narrative many people can relate to and it’s almost impossible not to feel moved by it all.

Ron’s Gone Wrong has some gorgeous animation, a catchy soundtrack, and a great screenplay with some seriously hilarious moments. On top of all that, there’s a great moral of the story too. What’s not to love?

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