Friday, October 22, 2021


Opening this weekend:

Ron's Gone Wrong--"B-bots" are the hot new item every kid wants. Shaped like big glowing Tic Tacs, B-bots are personalized robotic sidekicks programmed to cater to each individual kid's tastes, and to maximize their social media presence.

The craze for this highly plausible consumer product is the premise of this CGI animated comedy, a Brit production distributed in the states by 20th Century. Our junior-high-age hero Barney would love a B-bot for his birthday, but Barney's dad, a struggling novelties salesman, can't afford to get him a brand new one, so he gives him one that literally fell off a truck.

This is Ron (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), and he's damaged goods; he has indeed gone wrong, and his screwy malfunctioning antics generate much wacky mayhem. Initially appalled, Barney gradually learns to love his well-meaning but haywire pal in a way that the kids with functional B-bots can't. Ron, who seems like a cousin of the similarly minimalist and deadpan Baymax in Disney's 2014 Big Hero 6, is indeed a lovable presence.

The overarching point of Ron's Gone Wrong--that true friendship can't be programmed; it's messy and always requires compromise and acceptance--is a good one. But the movie's more direct and immediate points, about our society's alarming if not terrifying addiction to social media, are probably more urgently needed.

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