Every now and then a film comes along that not only feels good but also makes you question aspects of the way we live, and Ron’s Gone Wrong is just that. We follow Barney, a slightly awkward kid navigating his way through the complex middle school years. Unlike his peers, Barney cannot afford a B*Bot, a new customizable, miniature robot companion that’s taken the tech world by storm. That is until his birthday, where his dad is able to buy a damaged unit for a smaller price, resulting in Ron’s chaotic malfunctions. Despite Ron’s factory flaws, the short android, slowly but surely, begins to pull on Barney’s heartstrings.
This feel-good flick is the first to be released by Locksmith Animation, and it would have come sooner if not for the ongoing pandemic. Ron’s Gone Wrong is the latest animated feature to be both finalized and released under COVID, and just like films such as Pixar’s Luca before it, you cannot tell in the slightest that the majority of animation and voice acting was done remotely. Locksmith’s debut arrives seamlessly in this regard. Although, it could have been a bit smoother.
The film jumps right into the inciting incident with no time for exposition, which works in some ways better than others. In one of the lesser ways, there is much left to be desired from the pivotal character of Marc – the original creator of the B*Bot itself. Voiced by Justice Smith, Marc merely alludes to the childhood aspirations behind this life-changing invention – it would have been nice to actually see more of this visualized on-screen. Quite frankly, more information as to how this man has impressively become the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation at such a young age would be beneficial as that plot point often becomes a distraction. Marc comes across as a two-dimensional character where all the others are much more fleshed out – a shame as Smith is a great actor and his arc could have brought more heart to the story.
The plot can occasionally feel generic and predictable, playing into a number of tropes and cliches. However, the strong message and lovable leads make up for it. Ron’s Gone Wrong will inevitably draw comparisons to Big Hero 6, as Ron’s design and personality are very similar to that of Baymax. The dynamics between the main boys and their robot companions in each respective film are nearly indistinguishable. Nonetheless, Barney and Ron’s journey towards true friendship is anything but dull. Heartfelt and tender moments are balanced with plenty of family-friendly laughs.
Additionally, look out for some cute Marvel and Star Wars Easter eggs that were slid into the film as a result of Disney’s acquisition of Fox. This is the second time that Disney has added references to a previous Fox title, yet unlike those of Free Guy, these are minuscule and fit neatly into the world.
Voice acting is no easy feat, but it is one that Jack Dylan Grazer nails for the second time this year as protagonist Barney. His grandmother is quite a prominent character as well, and is a brilliant source of comedy throughout. Her Eastern European accent is spot on, which makes it all the more shocking to discover that the face behind the voice is none other than Olivia Colman, confirming once and for all that there is nothing she is unable to do. Zach Galifianakis manages to create an adorable and catchy voice to power titular android Ron. Other cast members include Ed Helms and Rob Delaney, who still contribute greatly even if they don’t always stand out the most.
Barney’s story is deeper than its charming facade, it provides notable commentary on everyday life. Although the film is more than enjoyable for adult audiences and touches on some poignant contemporary concerns like data harvesting, it never fails to speak to a modern generation of children who have grown up in the midst of technology, such as smartphones and tablets becoming essential parts of our daily routines. Ron’s Gone Wrong reflects on the connectivity and isolation that technology simultaneously creates as well as the growing obsession with viral content creation.
Through and through, this film is as endearing as it is entertaining. It is one that people of all ages will be able to enjoy and take something different away from while appreciating it just the same. Regardless of feeling generic at times, Ron’s Gone Wrong truly is fun, sincere, and memorable, which is all you can really ask of a film of this caliber.