Home Reviews Movies Robot Dreams movie review & film summary (2024)

Robot Dreams movie review & film summary (2024)


There are two central characters in “Robot Dreams,” but the backdrop of 1984 New York is practically a third. Berger and his team have devised a version of the Big Apple that feels like a love letter to a city that’s always humming and moving. It’s not just the regular shots of things like the World Trade Center or the Empire State Building but the vibrant creatures that give this film a backdrop, from the finger-flipping punks to the vibrant breakdancers. The city is alive.

Against this backdrop unfolds the story of a character known only as Dog. With his kind eyes and sideways smile, Dog is a likable animated creation right from the beginning of the movie, as he seeks a way to shake his loneliness in a city where everyone feels like they have a partner. Dog decides to order one through the mail, bringing Robot into his life. The two are instant BFFs, walking around Manhattan and dancing to the classic Earth, Wind & Fire song “September”—its well-known phrase “Do you remember?” feels like a theme of a film that’s about lost friendship and even a lost time in a great American city.

At the end of the summer, Dog and Robot go to the beach, but the lovable metal man’s joints rust after playing in the water, forcing Dog to leave him there. When he returns, the gates are locked, meaning that Robot ends up stuck on that beach in that position for months. And he dreams. Dog goes about his life, doing some dreaming of his own, but “Robot Dreams” is a film about a strong connection that’s severed and how that shapes the imagination of the two halves of the broken partnership. It might sound ridiculous, but it’s kind of like “Past Lives” meets “Zootopia.” 

Believe it or not, it works, largely because of Berger’s boundless creativity within a story he adapts from a comic of the same name by Sara Varon. There are no rules in a film about dreaming robots, after all. Why not have a snowman bowl with his head? Why not have birds who have nested in Robot’s body whistle “Danny Boy”? Why not have a movie-stealing Busby Berkeley-esque dance number set along the Yellow Brick Road? Of course, Dog and Robot love “The Wizard of Oz.” After all, Toto had a metal friend too. 


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