Disney’s upcoming release of Locksmith Animation’s first animated feature Ron’s Gone Wrong is a great reason for families to return to movie theatres. While animation aficionados will understand that the film is a step below Disney Animation Studios and Pixar, it is still worthy of a watch as the themes can resonate with any family.
Ron’s Gone Wrong is about Barney Pudowski who is in desperate need of a friend and when he is the final kid in his school to receive the latest digital craze, the B*Bot, he thinks he has a chance. Unfortunately, his “best friend out of the box,” did not get all the data he was supposed to. Barney’s B*Bot, Ron, has a lot to learn about how to fulfil his friend mission. Along the way, we all learn a lot about friendship as well.
The voice cast is stellar. Jack Dylan Grazer plays Barney who is nearly the exact opposite of Bernado, his character from Pixar’s Luca. Zach Galifanakis who plays Ron is surprisingly reserved in a way that fits the character and allows you to develop your love of Ron slowly through the film. Olivia Colman’s Donka, Barney’s lovable Bulgarian grandmother, provides much of the comic relief, while not sacrificing laughs for emotion. Ed Helms is the surprisingly emotional core of the film as Barney’s dad who is struggling to figure out how to give his son what he needs.
It is unfortunate that this film is being released in the middle of all the talk about the harm Facebook and other social networks can cause children and teens. Ron’s Gone Wrong wisely doesn’t paint the B*Bots as all-good or all-bad. With the exception of Ron, they are just devices doing what their middle school owners want them to do. It was good to see a more nuanced approach to the impact B*Bots, and by extension technology plays in our lives.
The first two-thirds of the movie are fantastic. They show the true depth of their middle school cast and how sometimes when parents or teachers try to help, they end up doing the opposite. Amongst the kids, there are no heroes or villains. Everyone has their own form of insecurity, as everyone that age does, and we see how they attempt to compensate or cover-up what they view as their inadequacies. If anything, this film will show that no matter how perfect someone’s life may seem, that everybody’s got “something,” you just might not see it.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the film, the movie’s internal logic begins to fall apart. While we won’t reveal what happens, it just feels like things don’t go the way they should. But I realized that you feel this way because the filmmakers had fully developed the characters to the point that you know that it wouldn’t play out the way it does. The finale also brings up technological ethics questions that a film like this is a bit ill-prepared to take on.
Despite its flaws, and much like Ron, the movie does win you over. Over the past year, we have been craving reconnection. Ron’s Gone Wrong shows us that even though friendship is messy, unpredictable, and surprising, it is essential. I would encourage anyone, of any age, to safely see Ron’s Gone Wrong with their friends, and then spend some time out of the movie theater enjoying their friendship as well.
Ron’s Gone Wrong will release exclusively in theaters on October 21, 2021