Review: 'Ron's Gone Wrong' Never Finds Its Footing

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday December 7, 2021

'Ron's Gone Wrong'
'Ron's Gone Wrong'  (Source:Disney)

Despite being released by Disney, the new animated film "Ron's Gone Wrong" was a 20th Century Fox production acquired by Disney when they bought Fox. I say this because there is a difference in style between Disney/Pixar animated films and Fox's animated films.

What's that, you might ask? We'll get to that.

The plot of "Ron's Gone Wrong" is a cute one: A company called Bubble (an Apple stand-in) has created small social media robots that are advertised as "friends" for kids. (Why they aren't marketed to adults, too, I'm not sure. Also, they are big and clunky and take up a lot of space, so the concept is a bit weird.) Kids connect with the bots, which quickly learn everything they can about the kids via what social media. This way the bots like the same things as the kids, allowing them to be their new buddies. The bots can also act as a skateboard, gaming system, and personal protection device, and aren't allowed further than six feet from their kid. They can't be violent, or cause any harm.

Sounds good, right?

Enter Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer), a poor Polish kid with a crazy grandmother (voiced by Olivia Colman) and a struggling entrepreneur dad (voiced by Ed Helms). Barney doesn't fit in at school and, because his family can't afford the B-Bot, he's even more of an outsider.

When his grandmother and father realize he's not well-liked at school, they try to get a B-Bot for Barney's birthday, but the store is closed, and they are too expensive anyway. But when they see a Bubble delivery guy with a damaged B-Bot, they purchase it and give it to Barney.

Barney is all sorts of excited, but when he realizes the B-Bot isn't working as it should (plus, he doesn't have a personal phone enabling the bot to connect with his social media, which he also doesn't have), disappointment sets in. As the B-Bot (voiced by Zach Galinafikas) sputters and goes out of control, Barney attempts to return it, but in doing so realizes his disconnected B-Bot (which he names Ron) is actually pretty cool. So, he keeps it.

But when Ron defends him after some local bullies try to harass him, the heads of Bubble want the faulty B-Bot back.

So begins Barney's journey to keep Ron safe and continue to bond with his new pal — and maybe find some other pals in the process.

"Ron's Gone Wrong" is a cute film that will appeal to kids as, in essence, this is a film about kids and for kids. The sticking point is that it bites off a bit more than it can chew. The film touches on bullying, connection, and the dangers of social media, but doesn't land hard enough on any of these topics... and that is the difference between Disney/Pixar and Fox.

Disney/Pixar makes films that appeal to both young and old. They have clear themes, and are sure to support those themes throughout. While "Inside/Out" was colorful and filled with fun characters, it also had a firm handle on its theme of depression.

Here, the themes move in and out as the plot constantly relies on frenetic action to entertain. Fox movies tend to be loud and zany. Disney/Pixar tends to navigate the loud and quiet moments with grace.

There's nothing really (eh-hem) wrong with "Ron's Gone Wrong," but it's a bit too long and unfocused to go down as a classic. The voice work is excellent all around, and it looks terrific. Kids will love it. Adults will tolerate it with ease. But don't expect a plethora of Ron tie-in robot toys to be the hot gift this holiday season.

"Ron's Gone Wrong" Crashes On To 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD December 7 and Digital December 15

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.