In a world where artificial intelligence dominates the imagination, Robots (2023) attempts to merge the powers of AI with the unlikely pursuit of love. Directed by Casper Christensen and Anthony Hines, this film, based on Robert Sheckley's short story "The Robot Who Looked Like Me," had the potential to be a great idea. Alas, the execution falls flat faster than a malfunctioning android.
Let's start with the humor or rather the lack thereof. Robots tries so desperately to be funny, it's like a malfunctioning AI algorithm desperately spewing out jokes, only to receive awkward silence in return. It's not just that the humor is unfunny; it's unfunny in a way that's tragically unfortunate, or at times, almost aggressively bad. Perhaps the writers should have taken a page from their own playbook, as their involvement in the "Borat" films would suggest they know how to craft genuine comedy. Unfortunately, that expertise is nowhere to be found in Robots.
The film introduces us to Charles, a charming Brit with a British accent, because why not add an accent that clashes hilariously with the rest of his American family? His father, Ted, and half-brother, Ted Cameron Jr., perfectly exemplify this inconsistent accent disaster. It's like a symphony of vocal incompatibility that leaves the audience scratching their heads in confusion.
And then there's Elaine, a gold digger who only wants men to buy her expensive trinkets. But that's about all we know about her. The film neglects to reveal anything meaningful about her family or her aspirations, reducing her character to a one-dimensional stereotype. I guess spending money given by men is her sole ambition in life. How profound.
As if the lackluster characters weren't enough, Robots also gifts us with an ensemble of supporting characters that are as empty as a malfunctioning robot's battery. Charles' best friend, Ashley, is a dimwitted, politically conservative bigot who blames immigrants and robots for his own employment woes. Ah, yes, the classic comedic relief that falls flat faster than a discarded robot on the scrap heap. The phony friendship between Charles and Ashley is about as genuine as a chatbot pretending to be human.
But here's the kicker—the film attempts to explore the profound impact of robot clones becoming more human. Unfortunately, the profound exploration seems to have malfunctioned, resulting in a clichéd rom-com chase movie. The potential for insightful commentary on society's evolving relationship with AI is squandered. Instead, we're left with a superficial narrative that does nothing more than confirm what we already knew: the unlikely couple will eventually fall in love. Surprise, surprise.
Speaking of the unlikely couple, let's address the chemistry, or rather, the complete absence of it. Jack Whitehall and Shailene Woodley give lackluster performances that make watching paint dry seem riveting in comparison. Their characters' transition from enemies to lovers during a road trip and a night in the woods is as believable as a robot trying to understand human emotions. The result? A cringe-inducing display that will have you reaching for the off switch.
As if the series hadn't already stumbled enough, it takes a plunge into tastelessness. Brace yourselves, because Robots manages to turn a mass shooting into a punchline. Yes, you read that correctly. Charles and Elaine discover that their androids are involved in a mass shooting, and their response is to hide in a cabin in the woods. Because what's more hilarious than turning tragedy into a misguided attempt at humor? Bravo, Robots, you've officially crossed the line from bad to downright offensive.
But let's not forget the icing on this malfunctioning cake—the androids themselves. The film fails to distinguish between the human and AI roles played by Woodley and Whitehall, leaving us questioning whether the characters are human or just mere automatons. It's like watching a puppet show where the puppets have somehow become indistinguishable from the puppeteers. Bravo on the lack of subtlety, Robots.
In conclusion, Robots (2023) is a disastrous rom-com that trips over its own circuitry at every turn. From its unfunny attempts at humor to its inconsistent accents and poorly developed characters, this film is a cacophony of missed opportunities. Its tasteless jokes and lack of chemistry only further amplify its inherent flaws. So, if you're looking for a film to induce groans rather than laughter, Robots might just be the perfect match.
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