British animation has certainly been lacking when up against the heavyweight Americans. That’s not to say we haven’t released some impressive, animated features; Aardman has certainly been holding the fort with its stop-motion hijinks (and one foray into a full-length computerized film). The occasional film here and there does not measure to the decades of consistent output Pixar and Dreamworks have. So, is it time for the UK to have its very own computer animation studio?
Well, Locksmith may be the key to unlocking British CGI filmmaking. The new studio’s debut outing, in partnership with 20th Century Studios and digital production house DNEG, is the delightful Ron’s Gone Wrong.
The story follows the story of Barney, a lonesome kid with an eccentric family who struggles to make friends. All the children at school, and indeed, around the world, buy BubbleTech’s latest offering – a B*Bot. This latest device is meant to be a high-tech best friend who knows everything about the user. Sadly, Barney’s family cannot afford one, not even on his birthday. That is until they pick up a damaged one in an alleyway. Barney’s B*Bot – soon to be called Ron – is a glitchy mess but as the pair bond, Barney is taught a valuable lesson about friendship.
From the writers of Arthur Christmas, there is no surprise that Ron’s Gone Wrong is a cute and adventurous movie. It sparks with a little bit of imagination and a lot of heart. As the story progresses, it is a terrific lesson to children everywhere that friendship is not a one-way street; learning about each other’s likes and dislikes whilst having fun and evolving as friends is crucial to relationships – even through the tough times.
At the beginning of the film, the middle-school kids are immersed in their devices, and you can hear millions of technophobic parents aghast at the amount of screen-time is shown, well, on screen. However, the film’s second message is about how technology – often and constantly sneered at – actually help children interact and befriend others around them. Ron’s Gone Wrong evolves around the course of the movie and whilst it fumbles, repeatedly returning to the same “he got away!” storyline, it still ends on these poignant moments.
As the core boy and machine team, Zack Galifianakis and Jack Dylan Grazer help with the tender and warm moments of the film. Justice Smith, Olivia Colman, and Ed Helms playing different levels of eccentric characters and, all in all, it’s a well-rounded voice cast.
There a few glitches in Ron’s Gone Wrong. Money grabbing CEO Andrew, voiced unscrupulously by Rob Delaney, is a sadly an unnecessary antagonist who becomes truly annoying after a while. As mentioned, the storyline isn’t strong enough and eventually, it can get repetitive.
One of the biggest dilemmas that Ron’s Gone Wrong faces is that Netflix released a very similar film earlier this year, to much critical acclaim – Mitchells vs the Machines. Whilst the core story is different, the settings feel familiar and sadly, Mitchells is vastly superior in accomplishment, aesthetic, and comedy.
In spite of this, however, this, there is a lot of fun to be had with Locksmith’s debut feature. Ron’s Gone Wrong is a brightly coloured, and vivid adventure for children of all ages.