‘Robot Dreams’ – Animated Film of Melody and Nostalgia Brilliantly Conquering the Box Office This Friday


In the realm of cinema, nothing is quite as remarkable as the unique ability of a film to make classic tunes like Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” which has graced almost a thousand films, feel as if they’ve found their true purpose in an unexpected story about a dog and a robot.

The animated masterpiece “Robot Dreams” accomplishes this feat. Void of dialogue, the film relies heavily on its enchanting melodies to bathe viewers in its playful yet thoughtful atmosphere. Crafted by the visionary Pablo Berger, “Robot Dreams” is an 80s-set fable, taking place in New York. The narrative gracefully explores the ebb and flow of relationships. The film goes beyond merely featuring “September” in a scene or two. The disco classic becomes an integral part of the narrative, establishing itself as a harmonious backdrop to the endearing camaraderie between Dog and Robot – the creatively named protagonists of this delightful film. The tune resonates throughout the story, recurring in distinct interpretations, stirring nostalgia each time the duo reminisce about each other.

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“Robot Dreams” encapsulates the dismal melancholy and exuberant joy expressed in Earth, Wind & Fire’s beloved classic. As the song sparks memories with its question “Do you remember?” a similar sentiment permeates this touching film. Despite the absence of spoken lines, the movie achieves the profound depth of a brilliant pop song, deeply moving its audience without uttering a single word.

This attributes a certain value to the ability to remember when it comes to the film. After debuting over a year prior at the Cannes Film Festival, “Robot Dreams”, earning Oscar recognition as one of the nominees for the Best Animated Film, is finally gracing North American theaters this coming Friday. An atypical release pattern befits an unusual movie.

Indeed, “Robot Dreams,” an adaption from Sara Varon’s 2007 graphic novel, caters to a broad age group. Alhough it is certainly a children’s movie, it handles the intricacies of relationships with such maturity that older viewers find themselves equally captivated.

The narrative begins with Dog leading a solitary existence in the East Village of New York. After noticing his reflection in the TV screen one night, an advertisement inspires Dog to procure an Amica 2000. Upon its arrival, assemblage leads to Dog meeting his new companion, a friendly robot.

The newfound camaraderie invigorates Dog. Together, they explore a vividly depicted New York, jumping subway turnstiles, visiting Woolworths and rollerblading in Central Park, against the orchestration of “September” blaring on a boombox. However, during a visit to Playland, which resembles Coney Island, Robot’s exuberance warrants catastrophic consequences. The scientific reality of rust ultimately fuels the dramatic tension within this film.

Despite Dog’s persistent efforts, Robot remains immobile. The imminent arrival of fall results in the beach closing, leaving Robot stranded. The narrative spans across seasons, with Robot slumbering through winter while Dog navigates life’s changes and attempts to create new bonds.

The dreams of both Dog and Robot often take a surreal turn. Dog dreams include interactions with a head-bowling snowman, while Robot envisions a storyline reminiscent of “Wizard of Oz.” Both are haunted by the dread of friend-abandonment, even as they experience new adventures and relationships. “Robot Dreams” progressively transforms into a story about embracing change while holding onto precious shared memories. A meaningful lesson hidden within an animated film, relevant to viewers of all ages.

However, the depth in “Robot Dreams” doesn’t stop there, as it enriches memory with nostalgic references. Subtle nods to vintage items such as Atari and Tab soda are scattered throughout, along with a possible pun linking the Amica 2000 robot to the Amiga 500 – an early computer, a hint at our present digital era. The stirring presence of the Twin Towers works as a moving symbol of the absence of companions and families, whose memories continue to affect us.

One might argue this is a surprising amount of depth to encounter in a storyline unfolding around a dog and a robot, but “Robot Dreams” carries the weight beautifully. The touching narrative is supported by the uplifting spirit and lyrics of a popular wedding song, “Only blue talk and love, remember / The true love we share today.”

“Robot Dreams” is a Neon release, intended for all, and while it remains unrated by the Motion Picture Association, its running time is 102 minutes. It enthusiastically earns three and a half stars out of four.