All 12-year-old Barney (Grazer) wants is a friend, and to be like the other kids in school who all have a “B*bot” – a walking, talking, digitally-connected robot toy advertised as your ‘best friend out of the box’. Unfortunately, when he does finally get one, Barney’s B*bot, Ron, is defective (it literally fell off the back of a truck), but together misfit Barney and misfiring Ron embark on an adventure that touches on everything from the prevalence of social media to the importance of finding that one friend who is always there for you.
The first full-length movie from London animation studio Locksmith, this has many familiar themes and plot twists – fans of The Iron Giant, ET, Big Hero 6 and The Mitchells Vs The Machines will notice similarities here – but it is all delivered in a fresh, bright and heartfelt way that is just lovely.
Malfunctioning Ron is adorable– because his data didn’t load and he isn’t connected to the B*Bot network, he learns the old-fashioned way about friendship, bullies and life – while Barney is the awkward kid we all remember being at school, who is still so traumatised by an embarrassing sixth birthday party that he doesn’t even bother handing out invitations for the bash his widowed dad (Helms) and eccentric Hungarian granny (Colman) had planned for this year.
Parents will nod knowingly as the film sharply comments on big technology firms (led by Smith’s innocent computer whiz Marc and Rob Delaney’s calculating Andrew) and some great points are made about screen time and protecting your data that are nicely (and often humorously) woven into the plot and never feel preachy.
There are some thoughtful touches, too, from small details (the label at the back of Marc’s t-shirt is always sticking up, for example, and Ron’s wish to be the ‘best friend’ just like the sticker on his box) to bigger scenes such as the boy-and-robot trip to the woods that overflows with detail, atmosphere and heart.
Throughout, directors Sarah Smith, Jean-Philippe Vine and Octavio E Rodriguez skilfully mix laughs with moving moments, and old-fashioned adventure with a high-tech plot, making Ron’s Gone Wrong one of those must-see kids movies that is just as enjoyable for grown-ups.
Is Ron’s Gone Wrong suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Young or sensitive children may be upset that Barney is lonely and doesn’t seem to have any friends.
SPOILER ALERT! Halfway through the movie, Barney and Ron run away to the woods. The setting isn’t very scary but the pair are alone and Ron’s battery begins to run down. Also, Barney is asthmatic and therefore his health is in danger. Young children (under-8s) may find this upsetting, but Barney and Ron are found.
There are also scenes in the movie where Ron may be crushed or his memory wiped which may worry sensitive viewers.
There are a couple of scenes in which Barney is bullied by a former school friend but this is resolved by the end of the movie.
The movie’s ‘baddie’ is not very sinister so should not bother kids of any age.
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