20th Century Studios’ brand new family friendly CG flick, Ron’s Gone Wrong is a surprisingly entertaining presentation from the Disney-owned movie. The nearly two-hour movie (more specifically, it runs approximately one hour, 47 minutes) surprises in part because of its story. The two-pronged story will be examined shortly. By relation, the story’s pacing is also of import to the movie’s success and will be examined a little later. The cast’s acting also plays into the movie’s success. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie. All things considered, they make Ron’s Gone Wrong a movie that surprisingly, audiences will not go wrong watching.
20th Century Studios’ brand new family friendly CG-flick, Ron’s Gone Wrong is a surprisingly successful new offering from the studio formerly known as 20th Century Fox. The studio’s name was changed in 2020 after it was bought by Disney the same year. The movie’s surprising success comes in large part through its story. The story is a two-part presentation that will appeal to younger and older viewers alike. One half of the story is a clear indictment of big tech, its impact on young people’s mental health, and the unscrupulous measures that big tech will take to exploit those noted users. The story’s other half centers on the all-too-important message of the importance of friendship and its related topics. The two halves weave together seamlessly throughout the movie, and together with the pacing (which again, will be discussed a little later) make the story overall fully engaging and entertaining. The overarching discussion on the invasive nature of social media and its negative impact on young people’s mental health is timeless. This will remain a concern until such time as young people can pull themselves away from social media and its addictive clutches. To that end, the story likely will not earn an Oscar®, but will remain timely, making it relatable for generations of audiences. The movie’s writers clearly went after Apple, Facebook, and so much other big tech and social media in delivering this message. The companies are not named, but rather spoofed so to speak, through the use of the company, “Bubble” and its antagonistic boss, Andrew. Andrew is clearly a lifting of Steve Jobs while Marc Weidell is clearly an allusion to Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg.
The connected story about friendship ties directly into the indictment of big tech and social media as lead character Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer – It, Luca, Shazam) finds himself the only student in his middle school – Nonsuch Middle School – without a so-called B*Bot. The B*bot, is a digital friend that knows everything about its user, and uses that information to help young people find new friends. Marc (Justice Smith – Paper Towns, The Get Down, Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom) even called the tech the “perfect friend” right in the story’s opening scene. That immediate message lets people know that one of the key messages in this story is that friends are anything but perfect, but rather perfect in being imperfect. Barney learns that invaluable lesson when his dad, Graham (Ed Helms – The Office, Vacation, The Hangover) gets Barney his own B-bot (albeit illegally). In learning its serial number, Barney shortens the bot’s name to just Ron. Ron is voiced here by Zach Galifianakis (Due Date, The Hangover, The Lego Batman Movie). His work here is some of his best, and that is actually saying something considering the dumbed down performances that he has presented in the noted movies and others. It will be discussed later. Getting back on the subject at hand, Barney and Ron eventually develop a real friendship because Ron is not like all of the other B-bots out there. What develops will immediately ring a bell with those familiar with the 1986 movie, Short Circuit and its sequel, which came only two years later. That buddy comedy centered on a robot that developed sentience and only wanted to protect and befriend people. The good thing here is that this story element does not attempt to just simply rip off said movies, even despite the clear comparison. What audiences eventually get here is that we should not let tech dominate our lives to the point that we are relying on it to make decisions for us. We should not rely on it so much that it is doing everything for us, because we know better than technology who we are and what and who we like. So yes, between this overarching message and that of the almost criminal nature of big tech, the overall story here will remain relevant for years to come. It also boasts its own share of heart along the way, too. It makes the story reason enough for audiences to give this movie a chance.
As much as the story does for Ron’s Gone Wrong in terms of its success, it is just one part of what makes the movie so surprisingly positive. The story’s pacing also plays into its success. Reminder, the movie’s run time is approximately one hour, 47 minutes. That is actually a long run time for a family friendly flick. Thankfully even being as long as the story is and with so much going on, the pacing remains solid. This is the case even in the story’s final act in which it seems like the writers – Peter Baymham and Sarah Smith – seem to have had trouble deciding how to end the story. The action and overall content is solid enough that the story keeps moving at a relatively solid pace throughout. The result is that the pacing ensures the engagement and entertainment of younger viewers just as much as their older counterparts. It makes the movie’s overall presentation that much more surprising in its appeal. The cast’s work joins with the story and its pacing to round out the movie’s most important items.
The work put in by the movie’s cast adds a certain amount of heart to the presentation that make the movie that much more appealing. The noted heart that is presented comes in part through the performance of star Zach Galifianakis. As noted, Galifianakis has starred in plenty of less than memorable movies during his career. His performances therein are just as forgettable. They make him seem like he lacked any real credibility as an actor, all things considered. However in this case, his performance as the imperfect perfect friend Ron is so subtle. That subtlety makes Ron so loveable to viewers of all ages. It makes Ron such a loveable character in his innocence. Grazer, by relation, is just as talented as he brings Barney to life. The way in which he handles Barney’s emotional and personal growth as he navigates his new middle school life and the changes from his former friends turned selfish youths makes Barney a fully sympathetic character. Those friends – Rich (Ricardo Hurtado – School of Rock, The Goldbergs, Country Comfort) and Savannah (Keylie Cantrall – Just Roll With It, Gabby Duran & The Unsittables) – are among those who fall victim to the addictive nature of the B*bots and big tech. It makes their revelation about who and what they had become late in the story somewhat unbelievable. That is not to say that Hurtado and Cantrall did a bad job in their roles. Rather they did a good job overall. It is just that at that moment, it is difficult to empathize or even sympathize with them for what Savannah acknowledges they caused. Audiences will appreciate the pair’s work as they become so addicted to their own fleeting fame, considering that is how so many real world youths (and people in general) have become thanks to YouTube channels, Facebook, Instagram, and social media in general. It really is an accurate reflection of society. But again, there is something in that one noted moment that makes their remorse lacking in real emotion.
On yet another note, Olivia Colman (Hot Fuzz, The Lobster, Tyrannosaur) deserves her own credit in her portrayal of Barney’s grandmother, Donka. Donka is only a supporting character, but Colman makes full use of her time in the role. Yes, that includes a little bit of adult humor, but in reality, what kids’ show does not/has not incorporate/incorporated some adult humor for the parents/guardians of its young audiences to enjoy? The scene involving the meat cleaver and the flashback to Barney’s sixth birthday party give Colman plenty of opportunity to create laughs. She succeeds in her acting in each case, too. Even in a subtle moment, such as when she pretends to be a cleaner to help Barney and company break into Bubble’s headquarters (again, yes, that is a direct spoof of Apple), she shines. Colman’s overall performance makes for a great introduction for viewers that are less familiar with her and her body of work. It is just one more way in which the cast’s work shows itself so important to the overall presentation of Ron’s Gone Wrong. When the overall work of the cast is considered along with the story and its pacing, the whole comes together to make the movie a surprisingly entertaining new offering for audiences of all ages.
20th Century Studios’ latest family friendly CG flick, Ron’s Gone Wrong is a surprisingly entertaining presentation for the whole family. The movie’s success comes in large part through its story. The story immediately lends itself to comparison to the timeless 1986 buddy comedy Short Circuit but still boats its own identity separate from that movie despite the clear comparison. The balance of its two-part story line is handled expertly throughout and offers elements that will appeal to grown-ups and younger viewers alike. Older viewers will appreciate the commentary about the near criminal nature of big tech (including social media) while the messages about friendship tied into the overall story are certain to resonate with younger viewers. The overall story’s pacing works with the story to add to the movie’s appeal. That is because it ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment throughout. This is even despite its nearly two-hour run time. The cast’s work voicing the characters puts the final touch to the presentation. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the movie. All things considered, they make Ron’s Gone Wrong a right choice for the whole family.
Ron’s Gone Wrong is in theaters now. More information on this and other titles from 20th Century Studios is available at:
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