tv & movies

‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ movie review: Robot BFF shenanigans

The kid-friendly outing asks if technology could replace human friendships, and eventually turns into a mission against the ubiquitous presence of the same

Ron’s Gone Wrong begins on a dystopian idea of a future where friends are replaced by robots. Even though the concept is slightly scary, it becomes accommodating as the film delves into the plot.

Bubble, a tech giant, invents a robot buddy called Bubble Bot designed to help kids make friends. They are cute R2-D2-shaped robot buddies (their voices are nothing like R2-D2 though) that connect with other robot buddies, download information about the human owner/friend, share pictures, and do everything that a social medium currently does.

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Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer), a kid who lives in a barn-like house, realises he is the only one in school that can’t afford to buy a Bubble Bot. While everyone at school is busy leaving their digital footprint online, befriending unknown people across the world, Barney tries to make do with rocks, goats, hens his widowed father Graham (Ed Helms) and his weird-but-funny grandma Donka (Olivia Colman). Eventually, seeing Barney miserable, his father gives Barney a cheaper, dysfunctional Bubble Bot as a late birthday present; one that accidentally fell out of a van and went slightly on the fritz.

Ron’s Gone Wrong

  • Directors: Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine
  • Voice cast: Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney
  • Storyline: A coming-of-age story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler, and Ron, his supposed “best friend out of the box”

This B Bot, now named Ron (an incredibly-funny Zach Galifianakis) — unlike the other ones — adapts to the old ideas of friendship, remembers what Barney likes, befriends people manually and protects Barney from bullies. On a journey scripting a code of their own, Ron makes Barney realise that friendship is something that you find on your own in time, without any digital help. After a series of chaotic-yet-funny events, Bubble tries to take back Ron by righting the wrong code.

Under the façade of this friendship, we are also made to realise the amount of our data available with tech giants, and the privacy that’s compromised. When Andrew (Rob Delaney), the owner of Bubble, blurts out that the whole idea of harvesting data was to increase consumerism and to make kids dependent on technology, an uncomfortable truth also stares in our face about the kind of privacy access we have given to the tech giants in this digital era. The engineer who invented the B Bot, Marc (Justice Smith) — an interesting name — helps Barney in his mission to save the world from the tech giant.

This is where the film starts to get slightly confusing, as it goes all over the place. Even though the initial question asked was if technology could replace human friendships, eventually the mission turns into a fight against the ubiquitous presence of technology.

The sentiments of the duo’s friendship also don’t go beyond the surface; even though the voice-acting, the emotions of the characters and the animation are on point, the connection is skin-deep at best. Remember how emotional it was when Woody raced to prove his loyalty against the arrival of Buzz in Toy Story, or when WALL-E falls in love with EVE?

Despite the movie’s overall charming nature, Bubble’s HQ is a huge bubble that looks very colourful on the surface, but it has its users’ data stored in a dark underground, insinuating the darker web of connections we have with social media. One thought does leave a lasting impression towards the end; that it’s not impossible to have robot-buddies as best friends out-of-the-box in the future… and that may not be an entirely bad thing?

Rone’s Gone Wrong is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar


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