"Ron's Gone Wrong" stars Jack Dylan Grazer, Zach Galifianakis, Olivia Colman, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, Marcus Scribner, and Thomas Barbusca. Released on October 22, 2021, the film is about a young boy who receives a malfunctioning robot.
The film was directed by Jean-Philippe Vine and Sarah Smith. Smith is known for directing and co-writing "Arthur Christmas" and served as an executive producer for "The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!". Technology is a friend to many people, especially kids. But like us humans, it also contains some flaws that may or may not overwrite its helpfulness. It goes to show that nobody's perfect, especially that one particular piece of technology. Last weekend gave us a break from all of the things that go bump in the night in favor of a more light-hearted affair for families. This film is the first to be produced by Locksmith Animation, founded in 2014 by Sarah Smith and Julie Lockhart, as part of its former multi-year production deal with 20th Century Fox. Following Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Locksmith abandoned ship and formed a new agreement with Warner Brothers to produce films under the Warner Animation Group label. As a result, this makes "Ron's Gone Wrong" the only Locksmith Animation film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox (now known as 20th Century Studios, according to Disney). Whenever a new animation studio comes into play, it's always essential for that studio to make a good impression to compete with some big names like Pixar, DreamWorks, and even Illumination. For Locksmith Animation, its most significant test is a film about a faulty robot. Was it functional enough for me to recommend to its target audience, or should it be sent to the scrap heap? Let's find out.
The story centers on Barney Pudowski (Grazer), a socially awkward middle-schooler who's also the only kid in existence without a "B-bot". B-bots are technologically advanced robots that are programmed to be every kid's best friend. One day, Barney finally receives a B-bot from his father (Helms). Unfortunately for him, this particular B-bot, aka "Ron" (Galifianakis), has a few bugs in its system compared to the others. Barney gradually grows attached to the buggy robot while attempting to protect it from the company that plans to shut it down for good. This is another film that showcases people's reliance on technology, especially the ones that are walking, talking Siris. Unsurprisingly, it's also the latest family-friendly animated film that centers on the relationship between a human and a robot that has innocence and charm in its system. The formula is something that we've seen in similar films like "The Iron Giant" and "Big Hero 6", which is impossible to ignore like a virus on your computer. As usual, the execution of its storytelling is essential in determining whether a film is enjoyable or not. Fortunately for me and its target audience, "Ron's Gone Wrong" got that execution right. It doesn't have the perfect code in its programming to stand alongside other films with similar concepts, but it offers enough charm and humor to embrace its undeniable imperfection. The key element that worked in its story was not just the antics caused by a broken B-bot. It's the messages that drive the narrative. In addition to exploring the repercussions of kids' technological obsessions, the film represents the essential value of friendship. The B-Bots are designed to be flawless companions who offer the same interests as their human buddies. They're pretty much every kid's easy way to make friends and become famous, but as the film goes on, it turns out that that's not the case. It shows that you don't need to be perfect and have the same likes and dislikes to make a friend. You just have to be yourself, and sooner or later, people will like you for who you are. I thought the film did a suitable job delivering this message to the kids while providing some harmless entertainment in the process. Although, it does have a habit of relying on its formulaic elements from time and time, and it has stretched its plot out a bit too long. Nevertheless, it's a well-told story that's not only humorous and fun for the kids but also thoughtful and endearing for parents and adults. The characters themselves were delightful enough to get the message across, and they're backed up nicely by the voice cast. Jack Dylan Grazer was solid in his role as Barney, even though his acting was a bit underwhelming during a couple of scenes. Zach Galifianakis proved to be the main highlight of the cast as Ron, Barney's malfunctioning B-Bot. He offered a near-perfect mixture of comedy and innocence into the flawed robot, resulting in him being another worthy addition to my list of favorite film robots. I still prefer Scott Adsit's Baymax from "Big Hero 6" as my top favorite, but Ron came pretty close. Olivia Colman and Justice Smith were also good in their roles as Donka (Barney's grandmother) and Marc Weidell (the creator of the B-bot), respectively, especially the former. Man, Olivia Colman's on fire this year when it comes to her animated roles. First, it was "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", and now "Ron's Gone Wrong". I got to say that I'm impressed with her career choices so far. I also thought the animation was pretty decent. Like its story, it was simple yet very pleasing to the eyes, especially the backgrounds and character designs. It's not going to change how we see animated movies regarding the style, but it did show that they put some effort into making the presentation appealing. As for its humor, the film provided some good comical antics and charm without taking too many easy shortcuts like adding in pop culture references every few minutes. I'm looking at you, "Addams Family 2". The only part that got me laughing the most was, of course, Ron himself due to his innocence and programming errors. When that little technical goofball was able to make me smile constantly, that's how I knew that they did something right.
Overall, "Ron's Gone Wrong" is as imperfect as the titular character, and that's okay. While it's not without a couple of technical hiccups in its system, the film is functional enough to please many young viewers and plenty of older moviegoers. Thanks to its charismatic voice cast, animation, humor, and execution for its story and messages, the animated comedy prevented itself from being a glitchy system. It also served as a solid starting point for Locksmith Animation's future. It would be interesting to see if the animation studio can continue its momentum, mainly since it's now producing some upcoming animated films for Warner Brothers Pictures.