Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms are two of the funniest men working in Hollywood, so, unsurprisingly, their latest film Ron’s Gone Wrong, is hilarious. Galifianakis plays the titular Ron. He’s a B-Bot, a smart device like no other – they’re like an Alexa, an iPhone, and a robot best friend, all wrapped up in smooth white plastic.
There’s just one problem, Ron’s broken, and this makes being anyone’s “best friend out of a box” quite tricky. So when he gets given to Barney (Jack Dylan Glazer) by his dad (Helms) as a birthday present, Ron has to quickly learn how to be a best friend. Of course, friendship is a two-way street and Barney, and Ron quickly learns that being best friends is a lot of work.
Part comedy movie, part social commentary on how social media has made friendship into a commodity, Ron’s Gone Wrong is a whip-smart animated movie. We were lucky enough to speak to Galifianakis and Helms ahead of the film’s release and pick their brains about the dangers tech poses to children.
The Digital Fix: One of the things I liked so much about Ron’s Gone Wrong was how it approached friendship and loneliness in our modern digital world. What was it about the script that made you want to star in it?
Zach Galifianakis: Well, the very thing you bring up, Tom, the theme of the movie, it’s not just commenting on modern friendships. I think it’s also starting to question what all of this [technology] is doing to us as humans and society.
Cell phones got into everybody’s hands in 2012. Not to be too serious. But so did teen suicides; they spiked in 2012. We know that it’s a fact. And we just never stopped to talk about we just kept going, and I think a movie like this, and hopefully, there’ll be more movies with similar themes, where we start to warn children and even question what all this is, that’s why I wanted to do it.
Ed Helms: I don’t have a lot to add because I feel the exact same way. I mean, it’s really important to be holding a mirror up to how kids and families and adults are interacting with technology.
And for all of its magic and beauty, for example, we’re having this great zoom conversation from three corners of the globe. It’s also having some toxic effects. So it’s nice to see a really fun and entertaining movie that’s celebrating the integrity of real human connection.
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Speaking of connection, I’m not sure how you guys recorded dialogue for this film, but I know some of it was done remotely. How much room did you guys have to improvise?
ZG: I mean, just as a matter of trying to break things up, I always try to improvise, selfishly, just to try to not say the same thing 18 times. For this movie, there wasn’t a lot of improv, though, because I was still trying to get the voice right.
The voice doesn’t seem tricky from viewing it. When I watched it doesn’t seem that it was tricky. But for me, it was working out how to do you do a robot with a tinge of humanity? Where can you get away with that? Where can you not? So so that was the challenge for me. So not a lot of not a tonne of improv.
I’m getting the wrap up so I’ll ask one last question would you both come back for a sequel?
EH: Sorry, a sequel? Yes. Of course. Yeah, this was an absolute delight. I loved working on this movie.
ZG: What are the hours? [Laughs] I mean listen, Tommy, if the message kept going in the way it was. You know, if it became a pro tech movie, pro-social media movie, no. If it did an about-face. But if the themes were still challenging, what’s going with what these tech companies are pumping out and challenging, of course, [tech companies] need to be questioned. Just like the tobacco companies need to be questioned. Yeah.
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EH: This is a long way of Zach saying if they pay me enough, he’ll do it.
ZG: You get paid for this!?
You’re not supposed to tell Zach you get paid for this, Ed!
Ron’s Gone Wrong hits cinemas here in the UK on October 15 and the US on October 22.