‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ Review: Still Under Warranty

A computer-animated film that promotes the virtues of analog living and a would-be heartwarming story that plays as faintly terrifying after the revelations of a Facebook whistle-blower, “Ron’s Gone Wrong” sends viewers out into a world that suddenly looks more dystopian than it did before. As family entertainment, it’s fine.

The movie, directed by Sarah Smith and Jean-Philippe Vine, revolves around a hot new gadget. Bubble, a not-at-all-subtle amalgam of Apple and Facebook, has invented the B*Bot, an R2-D2-size robot that plugs into children’s social-media accounts and becomes their constant sidekick, ostensibly to make them more social, but really to help Bubble become a surveillance emporium.

As a belated birthday present, Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) gets a bot that fell out of a van and is consequently a little fritzy; it’s eager to find out how many Newtons of force it can apply to the school bully. As voiced by Zach Galifianakis, the droid, eventually nicknamed Ron, speaks in mantra-like repetitions that only become funnier the more they’re repeated. The animation shows wit in its details: The droid’s body design and unsmooth graphics appear to send up older iMacs, with perhaps a bit of Atari thrown in.

Some of the caricatures (Olivia Colman, her voice unrecognizable, plays Barney’s goat-raising Bulgarian grandmother) themselves seem a bit fusty. But if the core ideas — friendships are better made the old-fashioned way; technology offers the illusion of connection while fostering loneliness — seem like bromides, in this context they hold up a cutting mirror to screen-addicted kids, and maybe even more so adults.

Ron’s Gone Wrong
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. In theaters.