“Ron’s Gone Wrong” is a sweet children’s movie about a socially awkward boy and his malfunctioning robot. It’s a coming of age story that also explores the effects of technology, particularly social media, on children. Middle-schooler Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) has been having a hard time making friends. For his birthday, all he really wants is a b-bot, which is basically a smartphone but if it was also a robot and could talk to you. The goal of b-bots is simple, to help people make friends, and connect both online and in real life. But Barney’s father doesn’t reach the store in time and instead gets him a bot from a guy in the alley. The bot, “Ron” (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), is not like regular b-bots. It doesn’t go online, have social media features, or safety controls. But despite Ron’s technical flaws, Barney comes to love the little robot, and the two become fast friends. The pair must try to keep a low profile though, or a profit-obsessed shady corporate executive will have Ron taken and destroyed.
The movie is a nice lesson on the dangers of too much technology, and how being too dependent on social media can be detrimental to one’s mental health. This is seen with Savannah (voiced by Kylie Cantrall), a middle schooler turned social media presence who becomes depressed after an embarrassing video of her goes viral. The other kids with normal b-bots seem to be struggling emotionally as well, again proving the importance of real-life friendships and human connection. The movie also touches on other aspects of technology. It becomes known later in the movie that the b-bot company is using the b-bots to spy on the kids and to market products specifically for them (not unlike what goes on today with smartphones and computers).
The movie is also very much about putting yourself out there. It is clear throughout the movie that Barney’s fear of being rejected by the other kids at school has been holding him back from making friends. Barney doesn’t hand out any of the invites to his party, and later he says to Ron: “people can’t say no if you never ask them.” Slowly, Ron helps Barney come out of his shell, and pushes him to interact with other people. This in turn conveys an important message about the bravery required to make friends and genuine connections.
The movie also teaches some important lessons about friendship. Barney teaches Ron how to be a friend to him: know everything about him, like what he likes, cheer him up, etc. At one point, there is a power outage, and Barney doesn’t like the dark. Even though he had never outright said it, Ron picked up on this fear and turned on his own flashlight feature in response. This simple moment says a lot about what it means to be a friend: to notice the little things about others and care for them without having to be asked. Ultimately, Barney realizes he hasn’t been too great a friend to Ron, who repeats Barney’s own words at him: “friendship is a two way street”. The film conveys the important message that relationships (platonic, familial, or romantic) go both ways and both parties need to put in effort and care in order to maintain a healthy bond.
All in all, “Ron’s Gone Wrong” is a great children’s movie. It has some funny moments (like the scene where Ron goes around town just sticking people with post-its with hearts on them and saying “friend request”), and also teaches valuable lessons about friendship in this exceedingly technological world. Ron himself is absolutely adorable and quite effortlessly funny. Little ones, older kids and even adults will enjoy this cute family-friendly flick.
“Ron’s Gone Wrong” is now showing in theaters.
By Alice Braga