Robot Dreams

PG¦ Blu-ray, DVD

It’s good to have a friend or two in life, to share common interests with, to go for a bite to eat with, to play FIFA with. But then you find out that they snogged your girlfriend/boyfriend behind your back, and everyone knew, with you being the exception.

So in that respect, having a robot as a best friend is ideal, especially as they can probably be programmed not to be back-stabbing scum.

Spanish director Pablo Berger’s animated film follows the relationship between a dog and his robot friend, that’s tested to the max.

boom reviews robot dreams
Oh wait, it takes 250 AA batteries, which aren't included?!

Living in NYC is Dog. It’s not the Big Apple we’re used to as its inhabitants are all animals. Dog lives alone in his apartment, finding himself playing Pong by himself, against himself. He is clearly feeling lonely and craves companionship. He then sees an advert on TV for a robot, the Amica 2000, so he picks up the phone and orders one.

A big box eventually arrives, and Dog soon finds himself putting together his best friend to be.

His life is immediately improved with his new robot chum, so is excited to take their first trip to the beach together. Unfortunately, something happens that results in the robot being stuck on the beach, with Dog having no way of getting to him, until the beach re-opens in the summer.

Dog doesn’t want to wait that long, and does what he can to retrieve his new best friend, but destiny appears to have other ideas. Will the friends ever be re-united?

boom reviews robot dreams
So you are a dog, and this is a dog. And you want me to eat it?

One of the ways that animation can be universal is when it doesn’t use any dialogue, as is the case here. That works well for short features, but with this feature coming in at nearly an hour and forty-five minutes, it can test the attention span of an audience, both young and old.

It’s certainly charming, and although the animation isn’t Pixar quality, it’s bold and cheery enough to get the job done.

But without dialogue, it just makes its general pacing feel even slower. Other animations have embraced having no dialogue, such as the classic The Snowman, which is only 30 minutes long, and the sections of the Charlie Brown cartoons that feature Snoopy and Woodstock, which again, are satisfyingly brief.

And actually its music is quite Charlie Brown-esque too, with its mostly uplifting jazz score, that gives way occasionally for Earth, Wind and Fire’s classic ‘September’ that is used as a theme throughout.

It was nominated for a Best Animated Film Oscar, which you can appreciate, but at the same time, understand fully well why it didn’t win, especially when it was up against the likes of Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse, which is superior in every way, and even that didn’t win (Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron did).

It’s a film that would have benefitted from being far shorter, which would have given its ending, which is just about worth hanging around for, that bit more impact with an edited version.

A sweet and colourful film then, it’s just a shame it outstays its welcome, much like many friends in real life do.

we give this three out of five