SCreter writers Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith have programmed this viewable, albeit highly spin-off, animated film about a lonely, bullied kid’s malfunctioning robot best friend – a cheeky tech twist on ET, with some borrowings from the Disney movie Big Hero 6 and Pixar. masterpiece Wall-E. It’s entertaining, albeit composed with algorithmic precision, and ends up suspiciously neutral on whether kids really should abandon digital slavery in favor of real-life human friends.
Barney (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) is from a poor Bulgarian immigrant family in a small American town. Her father, Graham (Ed Helms), is a sad widower who makes a living selling news on the web, and his comedy Borat-great Donka (Olivia Colman) has goats and chickens. Barney is deeply ashamed of his poverty, his asthma, and his inability to adjust: the well-meaning teacher forces him to sit on the school “friend bench” during recess, begging people to come along with him.
Above all, Barney is embarrassed that his family cannot afford to buy him a B-Bot, the new must-have toy: a waist-length R2-D2 robot that follows and connects him to the nets. social. , record videos, play games, and learn about all their likes and hobbies. These gadgets are marketed by the Bubble corporation, run by twenty-something ex-nerd Marc (Justice Smith), who believes that B-Bots will help kids make friends. Marc’s senior partner and majority investor is the coldly calculating Andrew Morris (Rob Delaney), who, we are hinted, is the corporate bad guy, as opposed to Marc being the corporate good guy. That neutrality again.
Poor Barney’s humiliation and misery comes to a minimum when his father buys him a damaged B-Bot that fell off the truck, because it’s all he can afford: a B-Bot that starts incorrectly (with the old sound of dialing) and it’s all unstable and wrong. But this dodgy B-Bot, Ron (Zach Galifianakis), turns out to be insanely funny with his hilariously inappropriate behavior, and he punches the bullies. The corporation wants this rogue unit back, so Barney has to hide his wonderful new best friend.
The movie runs on touchscreen efficiency and there are some genuinely cute moments where Barney comes face to face with his own misery. When Ron learns that Barney has no mother, he says thoughtfully, “Did they return her to the factory?” Barney himself, with his short hair and big ears, looks poignant, if perhaps unintentionally, like the guy on the cover of Mad magazine.
Ultimately, the movie is faced with a dilemma: Should Ron finally “go home” in the extraterrestrial sense, having done his job teaching Barney and all of his basically good-hearted friends to do without these soulless, expensive toys? Or should they reprogram all the bad girl and bad boy B-Bots to be like the nice and lovable Ron? (But wait: wasn’t the point that actual friendship has nothing to do with narcissistic tech gadgets?) Well, the movie never solves that question, although Baynham and Smith would have a right to point out that digital technology and networking social they are. here to stay and a movie that seriously rejects them on behalf of young people would not be realistic.
This is a good-natured movie that works best in its opening act, when Barney himself is the flawed robot, whose software somehow makes him unacceptable to the world.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism