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Photo: ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’
When you were a kid, did you ever have that friend that was your rock? The one person on standby that you’d spend every day with, talking and laughing and making memories with? It’s great to have that friend you can rely on through thick and thin to always have your back. Or maybe you didn’t really have as many friends growing up and made do with your imagination in your own little world. Relationships change as you grow older and people will come in and out of your life through time, and that’s what’s here at the heart of ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’.
‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ is the newest computer-animated film from 20th Century Studios, and their first since the closure of the studio’s animation department, Blue Sky Studios. With a cast full of well-known actors like Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Olivia Colman, the film is filled with great performances across the board and tells an enjoyable story about figuring yourself out and finding the people who really care about you.
The film follows a lonely kid named Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer), the only middle schooler in the town of Nonsuch who doesn’t own a B-bot. B-bots are created by the giant tech company Bubble and the company’s founder, Marc Weidell (voiced by Justice Smith, who’s really made a name for himself these past couple of years) and are meant to be your own robotic best friend. One day, his father Graham and his grandmother Donka (Ed Helms and Olivia Colman) surprise him with his very own B-bot, but it comes with a catch. The robot is defective, missing code that comes with other B-bots and acts in strange, zany ways.
Barney wants to return it, but soon comes to find that he likes his new B-bot, nicknamed Ron. Ron acts out in weird ways compared to other B-bots, such as by laughing and holding conversations with Barney, and Barney soon comes to appreciate Ron as a true friend. Together, as Barney deals with unresolved resentment towards his family and other issues with kids at school, the two bond and learn about what it means to be a best friend. Meanwhile, Bubble’s COO Andrew (Rob Delaney), plots to take the company to the next level and get rid of anything that might give it a negative reputation, and he plans to get rid of Ron once and for all.
‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ – The Pacing of the Film
Through all of that, ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ weaves in multiple different genres into one film in a way that makes it hard to describe. Sure, it’s science fiction, but it’s a lot lighter than most sci-fi stories. It feels more like a coming-of-age than just straight comedy as it is advertised, and there’s also adventure as well. And that makes sense really, considering how much goes on in this film. A lot happens here, which is both the film’s biggest strength and weakness. Here, we see Barney getting in trouble in school, running away from home, breaking into buildings, and more. And it’s fun to watch Barney go through it all, with or without Ron by his side. ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ is a film with a lot of heart, one that’s found mainly within the dynamic of its two main characters.
But despite that, it still feels off. A big issue this film has lies in its pacing. There are certain scenes when watching the movie that feel either unnecessary or too big for what it’s trying to accomplish. When I saw this in theaters, there was a moment that felt like the ending was near and I thought the second act was coming to a close, only to find that there was still a whole 45 minutes left in the movie. ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ could have benefited from a better structure, one that would’ve helped the whole thing flow better.
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A Story of Family and Friendships
But still, it brings a lot to the table and was definitely a fun time to watch in theaters. As said before about the dynamic between the two main characters, Barney and Ron are the central focus of the story, and the film benefits from this dynamic. Jack Dylan Grazer does well at portraying the shyness and innocence of Barney, a kid who’s never really come out of his own shell. Ron changes that, as a wildcard that proves to be different from the other B-bots. Instead of being programmed to do whatever its owner wants, Ron goes the extra step and finds out Barney’s interests, mapping out whatever it is he likes or dislikes to become the optimal robotic companion. Zach Galifianakis brings warmth to this robot, and it makes the relationship between Barney’s introvertedness and Ron’s naivete balance really well.
‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ really follows the friendship narrative really well. Besides the connection between Ron and Barney, we explore other kids who Barney has a connection to, like the wannabe-influencer Savannah (Kylie Cantrall) and the prank-obsessed Rich (Ricardo Hurtado). The film follows them and the impact their decisions make on others, and it’s sweet to see a children’s film focus on issues like this while also diving into how friends can drift apart sometimes. The film also explores other deep topics, like neglectful parents and the mental struggles an antisocial kid might have when it comes to making friends.
Directors Sarah Smith and Jean-Philippe Vine focus on a lot of topics and for the most part, they succeed at conveying them. While the story has some aspects that could be improved, like pacing, the film is mostly done well and touches on a lot of topics that are often seen in more mature animated films, like from Pixar. ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ may not be the best or feel like the most original animated film ever, but the story has a lot of heart to it and the Barney-Ron dynamic is good enough that it’s still fun to watch. Kids should enjoy this film, and parents will too.
‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ is available now in theaters only.
Cast and Crew:
Cast: Jack Dylan Grazer, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Olivia Colman
Directed by: Sarah Smith and Jean-Philippe Vine | Written by: Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith
Cinematography by: David Peers and Hayley White | Edited by: David Burrows
Music by: Henry Jackman
By Ben Ross
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Ben Ross is a writer at Hollywood Insider. He loves watching films and finding the message behind the art. With a love for movies and television, his goal is to understand as much as he can about anything he watches, and engage with readers about different topics related to the industry. He aims to find work that sheds a light on issues not really talked about and showcase it, feeling that it is important to understand the truth. Together with his readers, he hopes to celebrate beautiful stories in film and explore topics that are worth discussing – a value that defines Hollywood Insider.