"Friendship Is a Two-Way Street"
What You Need To Know:
RON’S GONE WRONG is a delightful comedy adventure with brilliantly crafted inspiring messages. For example, both Barney and Ron learn that friendship is a two-way street. They also learn that everyone needs a proper code to live by, even robots. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for younger children, because of some cartoon violence, lying and light rude behavior in RON’S GONE WRONG.
RON’S GONE WRONG is an animated comedy about a lonely middle school boy who befriends a broken personal robot and, through adversity, learns that everybody, including robots, need a proper code to live by. RON’S GONE WRONG is a delightful comedy adventure with some brilliantly crafted, inspiring messages, but caution is advised for younger children due to some cartoon violence, lying and light rude behavior.
The movie opens with Marc, the head of Bubble, a large tech company, introducing a new personal robot for children to go along with the company’s computers, phones and electronic tablets. Called a Bubble Bot, the robots are personalized to each child and are designed to become the child’s “best friend in a box” and help them find human friends who like the same things. Marc sees the Bubble Bots as a way to promote friendship, but his partner, Andrew, is more interested in the product’s commercial possibilities.
Soon, every child in America has his own personal Bubble Bot. Every child, that is, except for Barney Pudowski. Barney is an awkward middle school boy with no friends. His mother died when he was two, and his father struggles trying to make ends meet by selling novelty toys and products around the world. They live with Barney’s Bulgarian grandmother. When he was younger, Barney invited the neighborhood children, including a boy named Rich and a girl named Savannah, for a birthday party, but his grandmother accidentally almost set them on fire. Now, Rich has become the school bully, and Savannah has become one of the “cool kids” at Nonsuch Middle School, and no one wants to be friends with Barney, who has asthma and collects rocks. Making matters worse, Barney’s the one child in school who doesn’t have a Bubble Bot.
Going to school one day, Barney has paper invites for his upcoming birthday in his backpack, but he doesn’t hand them out to anyone. He figures, if you don’t pass them out, no one can say no.
When he gets home, however, his grandmother has prepared a birthday feast for the children, but no one comes, of course. That morning, Barney had mentioned to his father that all the children have Bubble Bots except him, but his father, Graham, says that’s okay with him because he doesn’t want Barney becoming addicted to some device. Of course, Graham is never without his smartphone so he can answer business calls, even at the breakfast or dinner table.
Barney hopes he gets a Bubble Bot for his birthday, but, considering his father’s opinion on the matter, he doesn’t get one. That night, however, Barney’s father and grandmother realize their mistake. They rush out to the local Bubble store, but it closes just as they arrive. Barney’s father notices a delivery truck pulling into the loading dock next to the store. The driver sells him a Bubble Bot package that fell off the truck.
Back at home, Barney’s thrilled to get the new Bubble Bot. However, the robot, which Barney eventually names Ron, doesn’t seem quite right. It can’t connect to the company’s network or social media sites to find like-minded friends for Barney, and it can’t be personalized to reflect Barney’s personality. Even more importantly, Ron has locked out the security software that restrains a robot’s behavior and protects children from the robots. The next morning, Barney finds Ron singing and dancing to an old Bulgarian folk song with his grandmother. Ron also starts playing with a small kitchen ax and barely misses Barney’s grandmother.
Barney decides to take Ron back to the store and exchange it for one that works better. “I can choose my friends,” Barney tells Ron, “and I don’t choose you.” However, on the way to the store, Ron’s quirky behavior endears himself to Barney, and, for the first time in years, or perhaps ever, Barney is having fun with someone.
Barney and Ron run into Rich the bully and his friends at a playground. They try to bully Barney and Ron. At one point, Rich hits Ron, and Ron hits him back. Then, Ron chases Rich and his friends. Barney doesn’t approve, but he’s happy that the bullies are getting some comeuppance. However, the bully’s Bubble Bot videos the encounter which goes to the police and the Bubble Company.
Barney takes Ron back to the store to get him fixed, but everybody at Bubble Company have been notified that Ron needs to be destroyed before he destroys the reputation of Bubble Bots. A police officer talks with Ron and Barney, but Ron hits him with his detachable arms when the officer asks them to show him their hands. The store employees capture Ron to destroy by the crusher. However, Barney follows them, sneaks into the back and exchanges Ron for another Bubble Bot.
Back home, Barney hides Ron in the shed and begins teaching Ron how to be a friend. He sticks notes on a bulletin board like, “Know everything about me” and “Like what I like.” Barney further refines the notes by trial and error while he works with Ron.
The next day, Barney goes to school without Ron, but Ron leaves the shed and starts posting notes on the streets and using a bullhorn to get some friends for Barney. Ron brings four adults to school, including a homeless man and an elderly lady, to be Barney’s friends. This causes a sensation and embarrasses Barney.
During the confusion, Rich and his friends discover that Ron has locked out his security software. They get their own Bubble Bots to copy Ron’s broken security code, and soon nearly all the Bubble Bots are running around the school with no security code. The robots go crazy and chaos results. The Bubble company saves the situation by shutting down all the robots, but the damage is done. The company’s stock market shares collapse, Rich becomes a pariah for causing the chaos, Savannah suffers an embarrassing incident that goes viral, and the whole world is trying to find Barney and Ron.
Meanwhile, Barney decides to run away to the woods with Ron, but what will they do for food and shelter? And, what about Barney’s asthma?
RON’S GONE WRONG is a delightful comedy adventure. It has funny scenes, exciting scenes and emotional scenes that will make you cry or at least tear up. The ending is not only satisfying. It’s also uplifting.
Even better, RON’S GONE WRONG has some brilliantly crafted, inspiring messages. For example, the characters learn, including Barney and Ron, that friendship is a two-way street. Using a computer metaphor, they also learn that everyone needs a proper code to live by, even robots. In addition, at one crucial point, Ron metaphorically risks his life to save Barney. At another crucial point, Ron makes a momentous decision to serve the greater good in a meaningful way. Both these scenes reflect, at least partly, the sacrificial atonement that Jesus makes on the Cross. Also, both Barney’s father and grandmother are loving parental figures. Eventually, Barney works out his differences with them and vice versa. At the end, the movie teaches the biblical principle of loving thy neighbor in winsome ways. For example, one redeemed robot says, “I choose my friends, and I choose everybody.” This is also what Ron eventually does. In this and other ways, the movie provides viewers with a positive message about overcoming loneliness. Finally, the movie also teaches a pro-capitalist message that’s biblically based or biblically sound. For example, the villain, Marc’s greedy business partner, is only focused on the commercial possibilities of Marc’s inventions. Ultimately, this causes him to actively take advantage of the company’s young customers. Marc, however, sees business and private enterprise as a way of providing a valuable service to other people, not just as a way to make money, earn a living or provide for one’s family. Thus, overall, RON’S GONE WRONG has a very strong biblical, moral worldview with strong implied Christian values, which are also biblical, of course.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for younger children, though, because of cartoon violence, lying and some light rude behavior in RON’S GONE WRONG.