VOD film review: Ron’s Gone Wrong
Bianca Garner | On 20, Dec 2021
Director: Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine, Octavio E Rodriguez
Cast: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Olivia Colman
Short Circuit meets ET for the iGeneration, this delightful and charming animated film focuses on the friendship of a 11-year-old boy named Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) and a “defective” robot named Ron (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), which he receives as a birthday present. Barney is the last person in his school to get a B*Bot and struggles to fit in at school because of his eccentric family and the fact that he is deemed a “poor kid” – a struggle that many children will be able to identify with. Barney receives Ron as a belated birthday present from his nerdy widower dad (voiced by Ed Helms) and old-country Bulgarian grandmother (voiced by the wonderful Olivia Colman). Despite a rocky start to their friendship, Barney and Ron soon become good friends and together they write their own code about friendship that makes Ron one of a kind.
Directors Sarah Smith and Jean-Philippe Vine – and co-director Octavio E Rodriguez – create a bright and colourful world, but the visuals aren’t exactly on par with the best of Pixar and sometimes feel a little lacklustre. This isn’t to say that the film isn’t enjoyable. The character design of Ron is wonderfully adorable and there will probably be many little children out there writing to Santa asking for their own “Ron”. The voice acting is superb, with Galifianakis highly amusing as Ron and Colman almost unrecognisable as Barney’s eccentric grandmother.
The film starts off strong, with the plot whizzing along quite nicely, only to come to a bit of a false ending towards the final act, with a rather predictable conclusion that older kids may see coming a mile off. In terms of the film’s messages and themes, it all seems a little confusing. The main baddies are an Apple-like company called Bubble, with a CEO who is trying to use the B*Bots to gather data on the kids. It sounds like a sinister episode of Black Mirror, but this will more than likely fail to connect with the intended audience, who aren’t exactly clued up on this sort of thing. For viewers who are, this disturbing element is simply and quickly resolved and isn’t discussed again by any of the characters, which is a shame. And, while the film focuses a lot on the authenticity of organic friendships and how disconnected children have become from the real world, the filmmakers don’t go far enough to address these issues, nor do they reach a satisfying conclusion. The runtime is also a tad too long, so younger children may become fidgety and frustrated.
Ron’s Gone Wrong may not have the most original narrative, and may be a little clichéd in places, but it’s very charming in lots of ways and there’s enough here to keep children entertained.