Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

The Oscar-nominated Robot Dreams shows the power of an animated movie to deliver an emotional punch.

Dog and Robot- the stars of Spanish writer-director Pablo Berger’s animated movie Robot Dreams.

The movie, from Spanish writer-director Pablo Berger, tells of the relationship between a dog and a robot in New York City in the 1980s.

There’s no dialogue (the city is populated by anthropomorphised animals) and it’s far simpler than many of the action-packed animated movies of recent times.

Yet most who have seen the movie, which is based on a graphic novel by Sara Varon, are in some way emotionally impacted.

When we first meet the dog, known as Dog, he’s in the lounge of his New York East Village apartment. A solo game of Pong on the television is followed by a microwaved macaroni cheese meal for one. It quickly becomes obvious that Dog is lonely. Then he sees an advertisement for a build-your-own-robot companion.

From the moment the bucket-headed, wide-eyed Robot opens his eyes there is an instant bond between the two. Suddenly Dog has a friend. And fortunately, this buddy is considerate, kind, fascinated with everything and totally devoted to Dog.

Together they explore and experience all New York has to offer – from buying hotdogs from local vendors, to watching a drum-playing octopus busk in the subway to roller skating in Central Park to Earth, Wind and Fire’s hit song September.

Then disaster strikes.  A visit to the beach at Coney Island starts joyfully as the two happily frolic in the water.  But at the end of the day Robot can’t move – saltwater and robots don’t go well together! Dog’s numerous efforts to move Robot fail and he is forced to leave his best friend immobile on the beach.  Returning the next day with the tools necessary to mend Robot, Dog is shocked to discover the beach is closed and won’t reopen until the following June. All Dog’s efforts to rescue his friend are thwarted.

The movie then follows events affecting both over the next few months. Robot lies on the beach dreaming of re-uniting with Dog. Those dreams range from cute to bizarre – including a multitude of tap-dancing daisies – to sad. He’s also forced to deal with some unsavoury characters together with a family of birds that nest in his armpit.

Counting the days until he can rescue Robot, Dog attempts to make new friends. This includes trying skiing, bowling and kite flying without great success.

Returning to the beach on June 1 Dog is heartbroken to find Robot gone.  Robot Dreams then follows the paths both take.

Given the movie’s themes of loneliness, longing and friendship, its clever portrayal of New York City in the 1980s and its running time of 101 minutes, Robot Dreams offers plenty for audiences of all ages and certainly deserved its Oscar Nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Robot Dreams opens in cinemas on April 11.



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