Quick synopsis: A socially awkward child gets a robot friend that is broken.
A lot of people like this film, I’d heard some very good things about it. My opinion? It’s okay. It’s not something I regret watching, and it is better than you may think it would be, but it’s not among the strongest kids films of the year (that probably peaked at the start with Soul and Luca).
It was recently made available on disney+, and I feel that’s a good decision. This film was made for family watching, everyone gathering around a television on boxing day and watching together while they’re too full of cheese to move. And as good as this film is, I’m not sure it will be in the public consciousness this time next year so they had to get it on there now to make use of its recent cinema appearance and positive reviews.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about this film. It has heart, it looks FANTASTIC, and the cast is full of people you love. It has a good mix of people you expect and respect (Olivia Colman), actors you’re kind of surprised but it’s nice to see (Ed Helms), and then some strange choices that you can’t help but love (Ruby Wax).
This isn’t the first film to look at the growing encroachment of technology into kids lives, but it does do it better than others have tried, mainly because it seems to actually understand the technology. Watch something like The Emoji Movie for comparison which seemed like it was written by people who still call all video game consoles “Atari”. The interactions between the characters and technology are so realistic that it seems hauntingly dystopian. The humans themselves aren’t quite as well done on their own though. There are some moments between the characters in this that don’t really feel true, some interactions between them don’t feel earned.
Really the biggest downside is it came out the same year as The Mitchells Vs. The Machines, which dealt with similar topics, also had the main AI developed by a young black developer (Justice Smith in RGW, Eric Andre in Mitchells), and both feature Olivia Colman. So comparisons are inevitable, and when you do that, this can’t help but look weaker by comparison. It’s a shame, as look at it on its own and this is a fine movie. But it does seem destined to the Shark Tale to Mitchell’s Nemo.