Ron’s Gone Wrong: Film Review

20th Century Studios

We may have already had a children’s animation about the downsides of technology earlier this year but I still urge you to check out Ron’s Gone Wrong because it’s super sweet and charming.

The film is set in the future when the tech company Bubble launches its latest device – the B-bot, a walking, talking “best friend in a box” that is digitally connected to other B-bots to help find that user friends and expand his or her network. B-bots are super expensive and Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) is the only child in school to not have one so he feels lonely and left out. His father Graham (Ed Helms) sees how badly his son wants a B-bot so for his birthday, he buys one for cheap because it fell off a truck – and the device, nicknamed Ron (Zach Galifianakis) – is extremely defective.

I loved what this film had to say about how technology and social media have made us more connected than ever digitally but also more lonely and isolated than ever in real life and how a device can never beat having a real friend. Some of these themes were tackled earlier this year in The Mitchells vs. The Machines, which is one of my favourite films of the year. It’s hard not to compare Ron to that movie, especially as this only comes out six months later. It’s not quite as strong but I still enjoyed it a lot.

Ron’s Gone Wrong is a lovely and delightful watch that lifted my spirits and made me laugh out loud often, with a couple of jokes being aimed squarely at adults. There’s still a lot of slapstick humour and silly fun to entertain the children and a good message to boot. I wasn’t 100% sold on the ending, I didn’t think it quite brought all the threads and themes together and became a touch too sentimental, but otherwise, I loved the story.

Galifianakis was the perfect choice for the voice of Ron, he achieves that constantly positive and chipper robotic voice while letting it also go off the rails due to Ron’s dysfunctional programming. His Hangover co-star Helms was solid as the tired single father who has lost that connection with his son and Grazer is a great voice actor, as he proved earlier this year with Luca. My favourite was Olivia Colman as Donka, Barney’s grandmother, the character has so much personality and spirit and Colman completely transforms her voice for the role; I had no idea it was her until the credits!

Ron’s Gone Wrong possibly suffers from coming out so soon after The Mitchells vs. The Machines but I think you should still give it a watch – I can assure you you’ll come away with a smile on your face.

In cinemas from Friday 15th October

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Father: Film Review

The Father

While most people were shocked by Anthony Hopkins’ Best Actor win back in April, I was thrilled because I had been campaigning for him to win for his heartbreaking performance in The Father since I saw it earlier this year.

The Father, co-written and directed by Florian Zeller from his 2012 play La Pere, tells the story of Anthony (Hopkins) and his battle with dementia and shows his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman) struggling to figure out what the best course of action is with his care.

I went in expecting The Father to be a fairly conventional two-hander where it’s just two people talking in a room and thought it would be a powerful but generic drama about ageing. How wrong I was! Zeller manages to place the audience in the shoes of Anthony and show us what it’s like to be losing your grip on your own mind. It’s incredibly clever but absolutely unnerving, particularly in the beginning when you don’t know what’s going on. Just like Anthony, I struggled to figure out what was real and what was not, what the facts of the story really were, and which actors were the true Anne and the true version of her partner Paul (Rufus Sewell). It was confusing and it was incredibly frustrating and exasperating – which is exactly how we are supposed to feel. The film forces us to see things from Anthony’s perspective, get into his mindset, and it makes it all the more heartwrenching. Normally my confusion would put me off a film but I could understand and appreciate the point Zeller was trying to make so it didn’t on this occasion.

With the narrative being so tricky to make sense of, the film really needed to be anchored by solid performances and it certainly is. Hopkins runs the gamut of emotions as Anthony – he is angry, cruel, confused, frustrated, vulnerable, giddy with joy, and switched on – and he threw himself into the part and sold all those personality switches completely. I don’t want to ruin anything but his final scene is one of the most heartbreaking and devastating pieces of acting I’ve seen in ages and it brought me to tears. What a terrific performance. He truly deserved his win.

Colman was nominated for her supporting performance here and you can see why – Anne is really struggling to know what to do with her dad. She doesn’t want to put him in a home but he cannot look after himself and he’s been driving his carers away by being so nasty. Looking after someone with dementia is a tough, tiring task and yet she shoulders the responsibility, even when he is mean to her. You can see she has the weight of the world on her shoulders and your heart breaks for her too. She is the emotional heart of the piece. They have great support from Sewell as Anne’s partner, who is desperate to put her dad in a home, Imogen Poots as his sweet but often accidentally condescending carer, and Mark Gatiss and Olivia Williams as the random confusing characters (which make sense at the end).

Most of the time you can really tell when a film is based on a play but The Father was less obvious because it is so dynamic. The flat – the film’s primary location – changes a lot to reflect Anthony’s mindset, time doesn’t feel linear, and scenes are replayed with some differences, from what’s said, who is talking, what they’re wearing etc.

There was so much more to this than I was expecting – it blew me away! It is the most empathetic portrayal of dementia I’ve ever seen, without a doubt. Wow.

In U.K. cinemas from Friday 11th June

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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Christian Bale or Rami Malek?

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