Gunther Vivi (Ryan Hall) is incredibly bored with his semi-charmed life. Since he dropped out of college at the age of 20, his pastimes include playing his synthesizers and masturbating to porn. His life has become so incredibly invisible, he claims the only person who knows he exists is the pizza delivery guy.
Before you riff on this quasi-spoiled brat, know this: a year ago both of his parents died in a horrible car accident, leaving him their wealth. His depression took hold (as it should), he abandoned all of his friends, and now he just sits at home. He’s grown tired of having nothing to do but spend money. So, he thinks of a plan. It’s not an exactly a bright or well-thought out plan, but it’s what he wants. He’s given himself three days to figure out a direction he wants his life to go or he’s going to kill himself. So, like everyone else on the verge of suicide, he builds a robot suit out of cardboard boxes to wear during the 72 hour life-trial.
Robot Tears is actually three stories, all which intersect. A guy gets dumped by his girlfriend, so he and his friend wonder around town, playing video games, and saying “dude” a lot. There’s also a girl in search of a job so she won’t be evicted from her apartment. Vivi (whom we will call Robot moving forward in this review) provides commentary on how he met these three lost souls, and their backstories leading up to meeting him. They’re his last hope on how he sees life.
Robot Tears has quite a few moments of original comedy – the cleverly written dialogue assists these scenes greatly – but the comedy gets heavy-handed and the jokes eventually become machine-like – one after another, a joke for the sake of having a joke. It starts to feel forced and stops being funny.
The dialogue is cleverly written, but there are some lazy lines in the film. Something that kept taking me out of the movie was their constant use of the word “dude.” This might be due to improvisation, but I can’t stress how much I frown upon a film when it overuses that word. There are two films that have ever done this word justice and they are Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and The Big Lebowski – the word use is evenly balanced and only said during the most memorable scenes and strongest punch lines.
Another inconsistency in Robot Tears is Robot’s countdown to suicide. The focus on him disappears and turns to the two bros who spend time arguing over whether Han shot first and playing video games. One of them winds up falling for the girl in search for a job, and that’s another journey we’re taken on. I don’t know about you, but suicide is no laughing matter and this film’s subject matter, mixed with comedy, could have been handled so much better. Wristcutters: A Love Story and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts are fine examples of how a dark comedy should be structured.
Robot Tears is a film that eventually gets too experimental for my tastes and becomes a project made by friends, for friends. What started out as a possibly great character study turns into a story of dudes saying “dude” a lot and forcing us to feel compassion for a suicidal young man without giving him any type of real personality to care about.
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