Ron’s Gone Wrong was reviewed by the BFI London Film Festival as it was shown for the first time around the world. It will be released in cinemas on October 22.
Ron’s Gone Wrong. This title (which means Ron is Broken) pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this charming yet devastating children’s movie, which brings a touch of fun to the topic of dominant technology and social media. Fortunately, the film offers plenty of great laughs, while also raising an important question: Do today’s kids spend a lot of time on the Internet?
Middle school can be an aggressive place, especially if you don’t get along with others. The typical school eccentric, Barney Budowski (Jack Dylan Grazer) is a young geologist from a poor Bulgarian immigrant family who grew up in small-town America and lives with his grieving widowed father (Ed Helms) and grandmother Donka (Olivia Colman). Of course, it’s not new to tell a story about dysfunctional families together in family movies, but in the age of Snapchat and Instagram, Ron’s Gone Wrong reveals why it’s hard to grow up if you haven’t kept up with the times.
Especially if it was all Others at school keep up.
The movie introduces B-Bots, which everyone should have as they follow you wherever you go, play games, help you solve your jobs, and chronicle all your moments on social media. Bubble CEO Mark (Just Smith) says it’s all about helping kids connect with each other, it’s a new way to make friends. But what happens when you can’t buy one? Poor Barney discovers the answer for himself when his former friends abandon him in favor of an even more exciting new robot. It’s a dilemma that has plagued parents for decades. Would you give up and spend several months’ rent on a doll that will be thrown in the closet in a matter of weeks? Fortunately, Barney’s father finds a way to get one of these coveted robots on the cheap.
But a defective B-Bot isn’t entirely subversive.
The robot, Ron (Zach Galifianakis), is in disrepair, severely damaged. And he’s like Barney himself, unlike anyone else. It differs notably from all other B-Bots that have been programmed to communicate, use networks, and mine personal data. Instead, Ron is malfunctioning, and it turns out that buying a broken robot that fell from the back of the truck wasn’t exactly the best idea. Poor Ron has connectivity issues, an incomplete database, and a foolish smile reminiscent of the Baymax robot from Big Hero 6.
Ron’s Gone Wrong is an eccentric and funny family movie that manages to have all the elements of a hit.
Although Ron might need some polishing, it’s exactly what Barney needs. It’s true we’ve seen this story in family movies many times before, but the addition of social media and other modern pressures gives Ron’s Gone Wrong a fresh twist. Instead, this modern twist touches on growing up in the age of social media in a way we’ve never seen before. Barney’s old friends are so obsessed with B-Bots that they’ve forgotten how to really live. Breaks between classes are centered around bot battles, live broadcasts, and spreading memes to millions of followers. But Ron has a better way.
At its core, Ron’s Gone Wrong highlights the impact of big technology on childhood innocence. Harsh jokes and hilarious incidents often carry the same message, which is that children haven’t been children for a long time. Add to that some very funny scenes and the touching relationship between a boy and his robot, and you’ll find that Ron’s Gone Wrong has all the right elements. And what helps is that Ron himself is also very cute and cuddly.
Zach Galifianakis does a great job as Ron, with a weird robotic voice that lends itself to plenty of hilarious crap. What really sets the movie apart is the perfectly correct comedic timing, and with a constant stream of hilarious jokes and rude phrases, Ron delivers great comedy. Olivia Colman also gives a brilliant performance as a retiree from Eastern Europe. It’s not the kind of role we’d expect to see her in, but after her role in The Mitchells vs The Machines, she seems to fit in with kids’ roles around crazy robots.
“Are we having a good time with me?” Ron asks at one point.
That’s the gist of the whole movie, do you really enjoy your new expensive doll? Or will you have a lot more fun testing the world, running, playing, and even messing around a little bit along the way? Ron’s Gone Wrong suggests that the best way to communicate is to go offline and talk to a stranger. It’s a nice message, but there’s a lot more to the movie besides that. B-Bot maker Bubble offers the opportunity to mock Silicon Valley with a brilliant tech CEO and his right hand: a Steve Jobs-like CEO who wants to earn billions from everyone’s data.
Ron’s Gone Wrong is very similar to the goofy B-Bot at its core: a bit wonky with plenty of magic. What starts out as a meticulously designed family movie, quickly becomes more disruptive, and that’s definitely a good thing. It offers unexpected and highly witty jokes, and add to that the touching story at its core. You will never hear your internet modem tone the same way again.
Translated by Dima Muhanna
Ron’s Gone Wrong is an eccentric and funny family movie that manages to have all the elements of a hit. It’s unexpectedly poignant, and it asks some big questions about growing up in the age of social media. Along with great voiceovers from Zach Galifianakis and Olivia Colman, the film offers a touching story about friendship that rises to films like ET and Short Circuit.