Ron’s Gone Wrong tells the story of Barney, a socially awkward middle-schooler, and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device, designed to be his “Best Friend out of the Box.” Ron’s hilarious malfunctions launch the pair into an action-packed journey, in which boy and robot come to terms with the wonderful messiness of true friendship.

The film features the voices of Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Olivia Colman, Ed Helms, Justice Smith, Rob Delaney, and more.

Ron’s Gone Wrong Review

First of all, just LOOK at Ron. This is peak character design. You can’t look at this little guy and not want to love him. This bot is friend-shaped!!

And the only way you can improve on this design? Have this adorable character’s fatal flaw be that it craves violence

(Ok, “craves violence” is a bit too strong. More accurately, Ron doesn’t have access to B-bots’ standard safety protocols. When combined with his inclination for curiosity and learning, this often leads to him trying to pull the heads off of various stuffed animals, chickens, and children. It’s hilarious, and adorable.)

Ron’s malfunctions of course lead him and his human bff Barney into all sorts of trouble. It’s great to watch their friendship develop over the course of the story.

Just the right level of emotional

Ron’s Gone Wrong brings the laughs and goofy hijinks, but also a surprisingly deep emotional connection. Barney, the lonely middle schooler, just wants to fit in. (And if the teacher trying to get him to sit on the “friendship bench” doesn’t make you cringe with secondhand embarrassment, did you even go to middle school?)

It also manages to speak to the nuances of friendship, both digitally and in person. “We’re not friends…but we’re not not friends,” one character explains awkwardly. And I haven’t felt as sucker-punched by a film in a long time as when Barney, during a climactic scene, tries to stop his peers from helping him during a severe asthma attack because he doesn’t want to inconvenience them or draw attention to himself. OOF. My people-pleasing, anxiety-riddled self has been ATTACKED by 20th Century.

A refreshing take on kids and technology

When I saw Ron’s Gone Wrong would be about how every kid has a B-bot, I was worried I already knew where the movie was going. I expected a certain kind of story. You know, the kind where technology is the evil ruining modern childhood and the moral is Kids these days need to get off those damn phones! And since B-bots are supposed to be about helping kids connect online, I just knew this movie was going to end with the kids ditching the robots and learning to make “real friends” in the real world.

And then…I was wrong.

That’s not at all the approach in Ron’s Gone Wrong. Rather than pinpoint technology itself as evil, the movie instead reveals the real problem: capitalism and corporate greed taking advantage of kids. The B-bots are flawed because they’re more focused on data-mining and building consumer profiles than helping kids form genuine connections. 

It was refreshing to see a movie—especially a kids’ movie—embrace the benefits of technology in a self-aware way. Sure, kids use their B-bots to post excessively on social media and dump money into gaming micro-transactions. But they also use them to learn about things that interest them and connect with other kids who share those interests. Modern technology is not all good, but it’s not all bad, either. And if a B-bot named Ron has to be the one to make some adults appreciate that nuance… Well, I can’t imagine a better bot for the job.

Ron’s Gone Wrong premieres in theaters October 22.