NOTE: This film was not screened for critics in my market, nor was a screener copy provided.
RON'S GONE WRONG is directed by Sarah Smith and Jean-Philippe Vine. It features the voices of Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall, Ricardo Hurtado, and Olivia Colman.
When a major tech company unveils the B-Bot, a robotic friend of sorts that quickly becomes popular, young Barney, a depressed outcast, becomes even more distraught when all his classmates end up with one. His father and grandmother are able to find one that had fallen off of a delivery truck, purchasing it for the boy, unaware that it's defective from its damage. However this B-Bot, named Ron, quickly wins over Barney due to its unconventional nature due to the damage it's received. It isn't long before Ron's action's which go against its programming attract the attention of the company who created B-Bots, wanting to take back the defective unit and avoid damage to their company's reputation.
Apparently "technology gone wrong in a world that relies too heavily on it" has become a hot subject for family entertainment these days; RON'S GONE WRONG comes only about six months after THE MITCHELLS VS THE MACHINES which had a somewhat similar premise. The movie has an interesting plot idea and a handful of lovable characters, but the end results are disastrously uneven. There's just nothing here that really sets the end result apart from the legions of other family animated movies coming out at a still-rapid rate. While MITCHELLS had lovable relatable characters, a strong family dynamic, a powerful message of acceptance despite differences, and a laugh-out-loud experience that was great for young and old alike, RON'S GONE WRONG is noticeably more juvenile, feeling like a hodgepodge of half-finished ideas and many things that would be more appropriate in another film.
I will give the movie credit for the basic premise; we as humans are overly reliant on technology, and what would we do if things went awry and it turned against us? That's a thinker, and while RON'S GONE WRONG isn't exactly original, it's not wrong either. There are some interesting commentaries in the movie about how becoming popular via the internet can be a double-edged sword, and while they certainly aren't elements unique to this movie, it's during moments like this that the film's at its strongest. You're not going to find an instant classic here by any means, but for the most part, the movie is good and decent family-friendly entertainment.
It's other elements here that don't quite work or make the end result stand out. The movie tries to give Barney an eccentric and interesting family, but they feel like they belong in another movie. I didn't always find myself engaged by the characters or the situations at hand, and that does make me wonder how it might fare with other audiences. I could see kids being enthralled by the colorful atmospheres, characters, and actions on screen, but I just don't think there's quite enough here to engage their parents. It's certainly not a bad movie, but in a day and age where CG animated films are dime a dozen, you could do better than this.
RON'S GONE WRONG was one of the many victims of the pandemic, and when it finally did hit theaters, it wasn't playing in them for very long. I had to catch the film on streaming (it's on a few different streaming services as of the time of this review) which is probably just as well since it's not a film I would've rushed to the theater to see. If you're looking for a decent weekend watch to kill time with the kids, RON'S GONE WRONG is decent, but don't be surprised if you find yourself looking down at your watch or phone.