"...a film with something for the whole family."
RON'S GONE WRONG (2021)
Long gone are the days when spooky monsters and creepy old people were the antagonists of your favourite family films growing up, because now there is an even scarier being attacking the kids of today. Something that’s always around us. Always lingering in our minds and in our pockets. Look out, kids… it’s SOCIAL MEDIA!
In fairness, Ron’s Gone Wrong does focus on the benefits and dangers of the social media age’s effect on children, but it does so in a way that is accessible for the younger audiences (even if it can feel a little too preachy at times), while also being a funny and exciting film that all aged-members of the family can enjoy.
Helmed by three directors, all who have worked in some form of animation at different studios before, Ron’s Gone Wrong feels like it takes the stronger elements from all of these different areas to combine them in this unique animation style. Its visual style initially doesn’t surprise or ‘wow’ you, but looking into the finer details of the character design or camerawork really does display something that feels different to your stock-standard animated piece.
And while this film is visually appealing, it’s direction somewhat suffers in it’s editing and pacing. The first 2 acts are cutting between two different stories: one being about our main characters and his relationship with Ron, and the second being about the tech company behind the B-Bot’s freaking out about this malfunctioning robot that is taking over social media. At points, the movie can focus too much on one side of the story that it’s easy to forget about the side story happening in the background. Then when the side story returns, it feels like an odd jolt in the storytelling overall.
Ron’s Gone Wrong is centred around Barney, a young boy who feels lost in the world full of new technology and connecting to people through that technology. All Barney wants for his birthday is the toy that every kid at his school has and that his father can’t afford, an AI-centred robot who takes all of your online data and becomes your ‘perfect best friend’ called a B-Bot. However, chance falls to the side of Barney when a malfunctioning B-Bot is found by his father, giving Barney the new best friend he always wanted in Ron. But, things begin to go awry when Ron’s inability to do what a normal B-Bot does causes chaos in Barney’s hometown.
While a family comedy is at the forefront of this story, Ron’s Gone Wrong’s real message explores the pros and cons of human connection in the digital age. The kids in this film are truly obsessed with their B-Bots and how it can boost their online persona’s. The message, at times for older audiences, will come across as really heavy handed, in fact, a bit too on the nose in some scenes. By the end of the film, I felt that the good intentions of trying to discuss the benefits and dangers of social media had worn out, however, for the younger demographic this movie is targeting, it feels like the best way to go about it. The film is filled with enough exciting moments and good-spirited humour that adults should have an entertaining time too.
The weakest element of Ron’s Gone Wrong is that it takes too long to end. When the film feels like it’s nearing its natural conclusion, the addition of a more action-packed finale adds on an extra 15 minutes to the film, dragging it a little longer than necessary.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Absolutely stealing the show is Zach Galifianakis as Ron. The blend of child-like innocence and absurd moments of obliviousness for Ron really allow the audience to feel connected to Ron’s journey of discovery, as we’ve all been in that same boat before, trying to learn about a brand new world. The icing on the cake is Galifianakis’ delivery on every line that forms a good mix of smiles, chuckles and occasionally, an out loud burst of laughter.
Ron’s human counterpart, Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) is a sweet character and an accessible misfit protagonist for the kids to side with, and Grazer’s performance compliments the best part’s of Barney’s character.
The side characters can come across as strong stereotypes that have been overplayed before. Whether it’s the wannabe gangster bully, the vanity driver teenage girl, or the black-sweater-wearing tech billionaire who has an evil agenda - the script makes the obvious point that all of these characters are driven by their own insecurities, and that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and most importantly, be yourself.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Being the first feature film from newly formed animation studio, Locksmith Animation, it is comforting to see that they’ve visually got their own flair and have started their career on the right foot. Ron’s Gone Wrong is an engaging, colourful and eye-catching film with yet another unique style of character and world building to differentiate it from the other animation studios out there. Each action scene is animated in a way that is truly exciting and utilises it’s animation style in a way that couldn’t be replicated in a real-life movie.
Ron and the B-Bot’s design can at times feel like it’s taken heavy inspiration from Beymax of Big Hero 6 fame, but it never takes away from the overall experience of the film. It feels necessary to the movie's plot that these robots seem cute and cuddly… for a robot.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Using recent pop songs that have stormed the social media circuit, this movie knows the audience it is catering too. Young teens and kids who know every TikTok song will probably get a kick out of the music in this film, and while it makes sense for the ‘disconnected social media’ aspect of the story, it can feel a little forced at times.
The score itself is in no way bad, however, it just simply works for the film. There aren’t any tracks and moments in the music that elevate this movie to another level.
Ron’s Gone Wrong’s heavy handed message about the benefits of human connection outside of social media is played as obvious for the younger audiences to understand its value, but a great voice performance from Galifianakis, some exciting action set pieces and a bit of crude humour here and there round it out to be a film with something for the whole family.
RON'S GONE WRONG is Now Playing in Cinemas