Stars: Kim Coates, Penelope Ann Miller, Joaquim de Almeida, David Eigenberg, Jae Head, Bobby Coleman, Peter Jason, Holliston Coleman, Billy Slaughter | Written by Avi Arad, Max Botkin | Directed by Sean McNamara
Originally announced way back in 2008, Robosapien has had a long gestation period and has gone through numerous re-titles (including Cody the Robosapien and Robosapien: Rebooted) since being filmed in New Orleans some 5 years ago. Helmed by longtime kids TV director Sean McNamara (Even Stevens, That’s So Raven, Bratz), the film is a family-friendly adventure film with a heart, the type of movie which rarely gets made outside of the TV movie arena these days…
The film is based (loosely) on Wow Wee’s robotic toy of the same name, and tells the story of an inventor working for Kinetech Labs who designs a robot for search and rescue missions that has the ability to mimic human actions and emotions. After discovering that the robot’s advanced microchip is actually going to be used by Kinetech for military applications, the inventor programs the robot to flee, whereupon it is damaged. Twelve year old savant Henry finds the broken robot, fixes him up and names him Cody. With no memory of his past, Cody becomes Henry’s best friend, helping him win over his love interest, battle bullies and partake in some crazy fun. Cody quickly becomes a valuable part of Henry’s family as he helps them forge better relationships with one another, and even surprises them by remodeling their home. All the while, both the inventor and Kinetech are searching for Cody. When Kinetech kidnap both Henry’s mom and the inventor, it’s up to Henry and Cody to save their family and take down Kinetech once and for all.
So here we have a kids movie, based on a toy line, hitting cinema screens this weekend. What is this? The 80s? I jest of course, but this film would sit perfectly alongside classic kids films of that era such as E.T., Flight of the Navigator and Short Circuit. In fact Robosapien features a very similar plot to that film – well if Johnny 5 met a pre-teen version of Steve Guttenberg’s character Newton Crosby, instead of Ally Sheedy’s Stephanie!
Now I know I’m not the target audience for Robosapien (which is squarely aimed at the same pre-teen audience that watched McNamara’s work on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel), however even I couldn’t help enjoying this film immensely. If you believe the reviews of some of my fellow movie-bloggers, everyone expects more from kids films these days, especially given the poignant and thought-provoking output of Pixar and the likes of Toy Story 3, but I think sometimes you just need a fun, light-hearted romp – of which this film fits the bill perfectly.
Of course no kids film is complete without a great, and likeable, cast and thankfully Robosapien has two fantastic leads in Bobby Coleman as Henry and Jae Head as the voice of Cody. Respect must go to whomever designed the CGI-created Cody – his appearance is a mix of the titular toy and wide-eyed anime character, a combination that makes for an instantly loveable character.; and it’s that loveable nature of Cody that brings you into the story but it Coleman’s fantastic performance as the put-upon science geek who finally finds a (robot) friend that keeps you watching.
Premiering here in the UK as part of the Empire Juniors programme, Robosapien is only showing in key cities across the country. If you can’t catch it on the big screen this weekend, the film also hits DVD on May 26th, courtesy of Kaleidoscope Entertainment. I highly recommend you get the family round to watch this one.