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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Review: “Ron Went Wrong” Is An Argument Against Himself

Mark Kennedy | Associated Press

The new film, Ron Went Wrong, has a clear message to stop watching movies like Ron Went Wrong.

A derivative tale of a high school student and his quirky computer assistant, the animated film seems to want to preach that we should all disconnect from our devices and restore human contact. But then what will the filmmakers do with all this adorable merchandise?

Ron’s Gone Wrong thinks this is subversive, when in fact it is a very corporate approach. He wastes his voice – including Olivia Coleman, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis – and never really connects, ending up as awkwardly as a modern seventh grader with a rock collection.

This actually perfectly describes Barney Pudowski (Jack Dylan Grazer), a sweet but lonely kid who is afraid of interruptions because all of his classmates have absolutely cool hi-tech bots that are walking, talking, digitally connected devices in uniform eggs that look suspiciously like Eve from Wall-E.

The creators call bots “the ideal friend” and “a completely new world of communication.” They represent bots at a hype-filled Apple-style event that will make adults giggle. “How can you have fun offline? This is against nature! ”Says one co-author.

Soon, everyone in high school has a bot, except for Barney, who is even more ostracized. Bots serve as a sort of sorting hat – they unite like-minded people, and then shoot and broadcast videos, send friend requests, like posts and advertise their owners.

Barney, with ears sticking out like satellite dishes, longs for his own bot, but his widower father and eccentric grandmother are too poor and ideologically inclined. “I don’t want you to be addicted to any device,” says his father, who sells new items and is addicted to his device.

But after seeing their son so morose, grandma and dad buy a model that literally fell off the back of a truck. It looks like a regular bot, but it is corrupted, lost the code and cannot connect to the Internet. He needs to be taught what friendship is.

Co-directors Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine, and Octavio E. Rodriguez, scripted by Smith and Peter Bainham, could move away from this premise in many ways. But they take a surprisingly cruel and slow path when Barney and his bot Ron explore the concept of friendship, fleeing the tech giant who created it and wants to destroy it like an “alien.”

By now we are very accustomed to films in which children are depicted with adorable robots, from Short Circuit and Iron Giant to Big Hero 6, The Next Generation and Bumblebee from Transformers. We understand that these steel baby creatures somehow make us more human.

But “Ron’s Gone Wrong” follows the same path to an unsatisfactory end. The friendship movie, which ridicules modern high-tech devices as simple data-gathering devices created by companies interested only in the price of stocks, ends up with the same bots still present in everyone’s life.

This is a movie that encourages everyone to turn off their robots and go play stickball. But then what happens to the toy versions of bots in every Happy Meal, commercial airline, or Walmart nightlights?

The film is being released at a time when TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook are discussing high-tech tolerance for adolescent behavior and addiction. Research shows that certain platforms can harm mental health and body image, especially among teenage girls.

“Ron’s Gone Wrong” cynically shocks technicians, but does not fully relate to the machines they make. It doesn’t even disprove the idea that algorithm-based steel toys can actually be our friends. He looks like too many films already, and even his title track, “Sunshine” by Liam Payne, is a pale imitation of Maroon 5. “Ron’s Gone Wrong” really went wrong.

“Ron was wrong”

1 1/2 stars out of 4

Rating: PG (for harsh material, mature thematic elements and harsh language)

Duration: 107 minutes

World Nation News Desk
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