Robots Dreams (2024) | Review

Simple to a fault, Robots Dreams had me sighing and clock watching when I should have been falling in love with its characters.

robot dreams poster
Source: The Movie Database

Synopsis: In 1980s New York, Dog buys a robot companion and the two spend every moment together. Disaster strikes when Dog is forced to leave Robot at the beach and return later to repair him.

Director: Pablo Berger
Cast: Ivan Labanda, Albert Trifol Segarra, Rafa Calvo, José García Tos, José Luis Mediavilla

Simple to a fault, Robots Dreams had me sighing and clock watching when I should have been falling in love with its characters. Although its story is a well-meaning tale of companionship, it also gouges a massive hole in the drama and a glut of simplistic smiles make its charm merely sufferable.

Dog lives alone in New York and is shown peering longingly at the couples he sees in other apartments. Dog is a curious character reminiscent of a mopey teenager – no serious interests, no job to occupy time, and wholly concerned with finding someone to be with. Translation: a drag. To remedy this situation, Dog purchases a robot pal and the two cavort around the city in carefree glee.

Building Robot and seeing its doe-eyed version of the city is decent fun and introduces a lively representation of animal New York filled with moose deliverymen, octopus buskers, and elephant families corralling their kids. There always seems a good reason for more animals to populate the screen as the film moves from the beach to the park, a ski slope, and a popular bowling alley. The entire film is presented without dialogue but keeps hearty sounds of an alive city and emotive bodily expressions (bursts of laughter, anger etc.) so these background characters play an important role in keeping things engaging around Dog's travels.

And now for the cavernous issue of the plot I mentioned earlier: tragedy strikes at the end of their Summer loving when Dog takes Robot to the beach and, after a dip in the water, finds Robot's arms and legs don't work anymore. For a while this is functionally fine. Dog is crestfallen and two rescue attempts are shut down by the faux-Coney Island security. The beach will open again on June 1st and so Dog wait. Best friend, companion, and seeming soulmate, left to rust on a weather-battered beach and block out the trauma. What is meant to prolong the drama and leave you longing for the two to be reunited had me asking:

  • Doesn't the security guard ever look at the beach and notice a flipping great big grey box just sitting there?
  • If other characters can reach the beach why can't Dog? Aren't there any boats to hire?

And ultimately:

  • After months of being left behind, why doesn't Robot harbor any bad feelings towards Dog? Even if these feeling were ill-founded, aren't they at least understandable?

The answer is that Robot Dreams isn't a place for conflict. It's sickly sweet and an attempt at melancholy that was resoundingly hollow to me. Using servicable animation and a repetitive collection of songs, it strikes an unwelcome balance of not exciting enough for children and not complex or grounded enough for adults. The film is destined to ride the wave of 'vibe' fans who will leave practical questions at the door and go with the flow.

Source: YouTube