Run, Robot, Run! (Austin Film Festival ’06)

Release Date: TBA

Run, Robot, Run!There are more than two parts to making every movie, but if it had to be done, the process could be split into concept and execution. Every critic knows this since many of them rely solely on the arsenal of insults involving the execution of a film, praising its concept as genius while distressing over how it could have been made better. I’m not one to follow trends, but after watching this movie, I’m forced to say that I loved Run, Robot, Run!‘s ideas and yawned at the way they were presented.

Surrounded by the brilliant technological advances of the future, every moment of Kent Weston’s (Chris Gibbs) life is dictated by his planner and his habits, most of them surrounding his unfulfilling office job and his continual pining for his attractive colleague Allison (Lara Kelly). With comic relief from his zany, inventor friend Garth (Christian Potenza), Kent’s life is unbearably pedestrian. Enter Adam (Peter Mooney), a state-of-the-art robot that takes Kent’s job, outperforms, outcharms, and generally outdoes Kent in every facet of his life – both personal and professional, leaving Kent with only one recourse: to destroy his symbiotic nemesis.

Run, Robot, Run! is a cute movie. With tons of throwaway gags about future life, it imbues the audience with a sense that the filmmakers had a ton of fun making it. Writer/Director Daniel O’Connor certainly had a bag full of great tricks that made his vision of the future innovative, yet campy. In other words, his future wasn’t a flying car filled, food-in-pill-form laden cliche. It’s a fairly thoughtful look at a future that is technologically advanced enough for robots, but emotionally tied to our own time. This is a big reason why the characters are likable and relatable.

For the most part, the movie is pretty simple. It follows a pretty predictable storyline of boy wants girl, boy loses girl to impressive robot, boy tries to destroy robot and learns something about himself along the way. Although the escapades that Kent and Garth fall into trying to destroy Adam are clever, they are ultimately lacking in any real excitement. Even the love story between Allison and Kent is colored by the fluorescent lights of the office instead of any real passion.

The movie is funny. It’s a good movie, not a great one. I laughed out loud several times during the film, but I kept wanting something more, something more exciting, a little bit more interesting. The concept is creative, the plot takes an easy path but is still decent, and the direction isn’t half bad. However, the elements keeping this movie from making the leap from good to great are the dialogue and the acting. Beginning with a simple storyline leaves the actor’s without a safety net, and they fall several times. It’s clear that the conversations of the future office world are bland, but without any charisma or chemistry, most of the actors seem like they are talking their way through a script they know is sub-par. Because of this, and perhaps some average editing, the film never gets a good rhythm going.

There are moments of good acting – Peter Mooney’s Adam is solid throughout most of the film, and he also gets a bulk of the interesting lines. Plus, his suave attitude makes the audience care about him and enjoy every time he wriggles out of Kent’s traps to destroy him. Chris Gibbs as Kent is dreadfully boring and shares little spark with Lara Kelly’s Allison, even when they start to like each other. Probably my biggest complaint, though, is Christian Potenza’s Garth, the comic relief that never seems to cut loose and whose ‘over-the-top’ antics seem forced and only come waist high.

It’s not a bad movie by any means, and it would be great to see the script rewritten a bit for dialogue’s sake and for the film to be reshot with a more capable cast. It’s a decent pick up on DVD that’s bound to entertain more than a few. If you’re in the mood for a no-brainer that will make you laugh more than once, and you’re willing to overlook a few dialogue problems and stale acting, it’s not a bad 82 minutes to spend.

The Upside: Clever concept marked by some great jokes.

The Downside: The acting and dialogue make it seem like a much longer movie than it actually is.

On the Side: O’Connor and Potenza worked together before on a short film called A Wing and A Prayer.

Final Grade: C+

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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