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ROBOTS (2023)

Release Date: 05/19/23 [Cinemas / VOD]
Genre: Comedy. Romance. SciFi. 

Studio: NEON

"Charles is a womanizer while Elaine is a gold digger. The duo learn humanity when forced to team up and pursue robot doubles of themselves." 


With ChatGPT demonstrating just how advanced AI is becoming, the idea of a robot double doesn't sound so crazy after all. This is the theme explored in the sci-fi rom-com Robots, with a timely yet fitting release in such a technologically driven world.


Based on the short story "The Robot Who Looked Like Me" by Robert Sheckley, Robots follows Charles (Jack Whitehall), a self-absorbed womanizer who has purchased an illegal robot double of himself. He uses his automated machine, named C2, to woo women and go on dates with them. When the relationship is further along and the time comes for intimacy, he replaces C2 and swoops in to have sex with them.


Similarly, Elaine (Shailene Woodley) has obtained a robot double, though hers is named E2. As Elaine is a gold digger, she dates men to receive lavish gifts and money. However, unlike Charles, when the time comes for intimacy, she uses E2 to do the deed, as her intentions are materialistic, and she doesn't wish to sleep with anyone she is dating.


During an epic mix-up, Charles, and Elaine's robot doubles C2 and E2, meet, fall in love, and decide to run away together. This leaves Charles and Elaine at risk of being charged with acquiring robots unlawfully.


With Whitehall's comedic background, I was hopeful that Robots would be rich in humor, though I am sad to report that I didn't laugh once during the 93-minute run-time. The storyline is intentionally over the top, which is to be expected when exploring a sci-fi rom-com showcasing robot doubles falling in love, going on the run, and causing the humans they've been based on hassle. The issue, however, is how cringe-worthy the attempts at humor are, and with a successful comedian as the leading male role, the writers may have benefited from some of his comedic input.


Whitehall's wittiness shines when playing Charles, but his sarcasm can’t save the dialogue. As Whitehall is so naturally charming, his scenes as C2 work better, as it was difficult for me to buy into Charles’ egotistical character trait.


Though Woodley is a talented actress, Robots doesn't reflect her acting abilities because Elaine is one-dimensional. Other than her gold-digging agenda and butting heads with Charles, we learn little about her, so connecting with the character on any level is a challenge.


Woodley and Whitehall have decent chemistry, though it’s only illustrated between Charles and Elaine at the film's end, by which point it’s too late to become invested. C2 and E2 have fallen in love, but their scenes are wooden. I know that's the point, as they're robots, but it doesn't give Woodley and Whitehall the ability to explore romance on a deeper level nor convey a feeling of genuine emotion. 


In the end, C2 and E2 show Charles and Elaine how to be human, and though this irony is clever, the vapid material surrounding the message doesn't allow it to hold much weight.

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