Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer) lives with his father (Ed Helms) and grandmother (Olivia Colman) and struggles to fit in with his schoolmates, especially as he doesn't have a B-bot - a walking, talking robot that learns children's interests and invites them to join up with other children. However, his father manages to buy him a B-bot off the back of a fallen truck, the damaged B-bot named Ron (Zach Galifinakis) becomes a strange but reliable friend to him...
There have been only a handful of animated comedies that have gotten it right about the influx of technology in children's lives, or even everyone else's lives for that matter.
Pixar's 'Wall-E' had a different spin on the idea of technological love, while 'The Iron Giant' was more about unusual friendship and the idea of people fearing what they don't understand. The less said about the likes of 'The Emoji Movie', the better. With 'Ron's Gone Wrong', there's every chance that this will be another high-handed, eye-roll inducing animated comedy about the ills of technology and how we all just need to talk to each other. Yet, surprisingly, 'Ron's Gone Wrong' makes the valid point that technology is neither fundamentally good or bad, but rather it's in how it is used and made to be used by people that it becomes the problem.
In this case, the B-bots are analogous with social media. They learn children's interests, automatically finds them friends with similar interests, invites them to become friends, and the idea is that everyone's friend circle expands with its help. Of course, if you don't have a B-bot like the central character, you're left out in the cold. 'Ron's Gone Wrong' will strike a chord with any child, or grown one for that matter, who grew up without the latest thing and felt awkward and almost ashamed by that fact. Indeed, 'Ron's Gone Wrong' doesn't shy away from any of these uncomfortable topics. If anything, it's the very core of the movie.
There are some genuine laugh-out-loud moments to be had in 'Ron's Gone Wrong', most of them stemming from the hopelessly deranged B-bot that's given to Barney and is voiced with vigour by Zach Galifinakis. Likewise, Olivia Colman returns to familiar comedic territory as the well-meaning babushka grandmother. Screenwriter Peter Baynham - an alum of 'The Day Today', 'I'm Alan Partridge', and writer on both 'Borat' movies - does his best to avoid the triteness you'd expect in an effort like this, though there's a few beats and scenes where it seeps in and gums things up. Likewise, the story does run out of steam and takes a detour in the later acts, but mostly, 'Ron's Gone Wrong' hums along with good humour and smart approaches. Unlike its titular character, 'Ron's Gone Wrong' is a well-crafted, well-executed sci-fi animated comedy.