Ron's Gone Wrong Co-Writer Peter Baynham Reveals The Surprising Way Ron And Borat Are The Same

Even in our modern, hyper-connected world, friendship is important for any kid growing up. 20th Century Studios' "Ron's Gone Wrong," now in theaters, tackles both the importance of friendship and our contemporary overreliance on technology through the story of awkward middle-schooler Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer) and his "B-bot" robot companion Ron (Zach Galifianakis). When the latter arrives defective and unable to connect to the web of social media by which B-bots learn about and befriend their human companions, Ron's forced to learn to be Barney's "best friend out of the box" the old-fashioned way: odd, goofy, and a little off-kilter, but good-natured and loyal to a fault.

In a recent /Film interview, co-writer Peter Baynham ("Borat," "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm") discussed his own shift from raunchy but Oscar-caliber comedies to kids' animated science fiction lore by revealing a surprising and unexpected similarity between Borat and the lovable defective robot protagonist of this decidedly family friendly affair.

"Ron specifically and Borat are both clown characters"

At face value, Borat and Ron couldn't be more different. The former is a sex-obsessed, raunchy traveler to the United States, while the latter is a cute, manufactured robotic companion that wants nothing more than to be the best of all possible friends. Contrary to this initial perception, the two share some unexpected similarities. In the interview, Baynham revealed that he saw the characters as indeed more similar than expected in one key category: they're both clowns. He explains the distinction between the two:

"[ ... ] actually, we talked a lot about the fact that they're actually not dissimilar, in that both Ron specifically and Borat are both clown characters. And Sacha Baron Cohen's background is in clowning, he studied clowning in Paris. And so as a whole theory of clowning about how the character must be very simple and must be very 'Yes!,' and doesn't really ever have the word 'no.' And also, just like a kid will keep going, 'Why? Why can't I do that? Why can't I walk under a truck? I don't understand.' And Ron is very much the same."

It's an unexpected comparison to be sure, with Ron being a decidedly family-friendly B-bot while Borat is well known for ... well, humor Disney wouldn't approve of. But the unusual pair are unified by this key trait with a number of interesting resulting similarities.

Borat: A Character Fit For An Animated Film?

As clown characters, both Ron and Borat are relatively naïve, innocent characters. While Borat is decidedly not safe for work, much of his cultural misunderstandings and situational oddities are from his genuine open naivete against a U.S. context. From this relative innocence, he gets into a number of scrapes, violates situational norms in comical ways, dresses in an often hilarious manner, and transcends expectations in unusual ways time and again. While he's less than innocent in the character's drives and assumptions, he's innocent in his motives and most of his contextual errors are from a place of honest naivete. 

Ron, too, is a completely innocent character, one with an unending yearning to please but who is devoid of cultural, situational, or interpersonal knowledge. This routinely gets the character into scrapes, misunderstandings, and situational oddities in the exact manner as Borat — just in a more appropriate manner. This is no where better exhibited than in Ron's attempt to make friends for Barney. Unable to connect to the various social platforms through which B-Bots typically learn about and make friends for their humans, Barney hands out a swath of flyers around town and gathers a grouping of inappropriate friends — not exactly what Barney had in mind. Of course, Ron doesn't know this. It's a grave (though funny) error, but one born of an innocent lack of contextual understanding. Without that trait, you have a pair of characters who will make odd mistakes, do anything as the idea comes to them, and feel comically without inhibitions and out of place.