Ron's Gone Wrong Review: Themes Have Been Explored Better Elsewhere

Ron's Gone Wrong is the quintessential kid's movie. It doesn't try nearly as hard as it should, the themes it explores have been explored better elsewhere, but it also isn't so offensively bad that parents are going to hate their lives for the entirety of the runtime.

Directors: Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine, and Octavio E. Rodriguez (co-directed by)
Summary: The story of Barney, an awkward middle-schooler, and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally connected device. Ron's malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age launch them on a journey to learn about true friendship.

Ron's Gone Wrong Review: Themes Have Been Explored Better Elsewhere
Ron's Gone Wrong Poster. © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

This seems to come up every single time we review an animated kid's movie, but apparently, the people making these movies aren't getting the memo, so we're going to go over it again. Kids are not small, stupid adults. They have a unique way of looking at the world that is different from adults, but it is not stupid; it's just kid logic. A kid will want to leave a movie during a sad moment because they are afraid that the film is going to stay sad. However, many studios seem to think that just because you are making a kid's movie, that means you don't have to try as hard, but you do. In fact, you need to try harder because if your movie clicks with a kid, they are going to watch it approximately fifty billion times, and you want them to learn a good lesson. Ron's Gone Wrong is completely talking down to kids as it explores things like the concept of making friends in the digital age and growing apart from people as you get older. However, it also doesn't try to do anything new or different with those themes and instead retreads everything that these kids have seen before.

The animation for Ron's Gone Wrong very much feels like something from lower-tier Dreamworks or Illumination. There isn't anything particularly beautiful about any of the designs or any of the animation. The bots themselves look like tiny Baymax's from Big Hero 6, but unlike Big Hero 6, the appeal of Baymax was that he was actually quite cuddly. Ron doesn't look like he'd be very cuddly and also isn't very cute as a design. He's supposed to be "naked" in that he doesn't come with any of the extra skins that all of the other bots have, but there had to be something else they could do to the default model to make it a little more interesting. However, the design of Ron would also be easy for kids to draw themselves, so maybe that was the intention for keeping his design so simple.

Ron's Gone Wrong Review: Themes Have Been Explored Better Elsewhere
RON'S GONE WRONG – (L-R): Ron (voiced by Zack Galifianakis) and Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer). © 2021 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

When it comes to the story, the kids are going to learn about the lessons of friendship while the adults learn about the concept of privacy in the digital age, which is quite the spectrum when it comes to storytelling. Ron's Gone Wrong explores an idea that many kids might be experiencing these days; what happens when your family can't afford the big expensive tech item that all of the other kids have? This is something that isn't unique to this generation of kids, but it is much more apparent these days. With the wealth gap getting bigger and bigger every year, there are going to be kids without a cool cell phone that are probably going to get bullied for that. This movie does try to tell kids that they don't need these devices to find friends, and they certainly don't need them to be happy. There are some decent jokes that will get a lot of laughs from the kids and a few from the adults in the theater.

As for the parents in the theater, they get a nice little subplot about the idea of the invasion of privacy. The little bots of Ron's Gone Wrong are basically a walking social media robot complete with streaming capabilities, taking pictures, and sending friend requests to the in-universe version of Facebook/Youtube/Instagram/Twitter. To the surprise of no one, there is a bad guy at the company making the bots that are selling the data and misusing the features on the bots. It's not exactly a subplot that kids are going to understand completely. However, the movie doesn't shy away from the near dystopian idea of a robot that with a camera and AI following kids around and recording their every move and listening to every word they say.

Ron's Gone Wrong isn't going to change the world in any way, and all of the themes it explores have been explored in other movies that are better. It doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it's also not offensively bad that it insults the intelligence of the entire audience. For nerdy kids into tech, this might be their jam, and if you're the parent of a kid that wants to see this? It goes by at a reasonably breezy 106 minutes, and there is a great gag right before the credits roll that will have tech nerds laughing.

Ron's Gone Wrong

Ron's Gone Wrong Review: Themes Have Been Explored Better Elsewhere
Review by Kaitlyn Booth

6/10
Ron's Gone Wrong is the quintessential kid's movie. It doesn't try nearly as hard as it should, the themes it explores have been explored better elsewhere, but it also isn't offensively bad that parents are going to hate their lives for the entirety of the runtime.

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About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on Twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on Instagram.
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