HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Deerskin
Toll, The
Two of Us
Nowhere Special
Rainbow Jacket, The
Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1
First Cow
Undiscovered Tomb
Being Frank
Occupation: Rainfall
Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc
   
 
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
   
 
  How to Build a Better Boy Robot Romance
Year: 2014
Director: Paul Hoen
Stars: China Anne McClain, Kelli Berglund, Marshall Williams, Noah Centineo, Ashley Argota, Matt Shively, Roger Bart, Sasha Clements, Neil Whitely, Kevin Alves, Jesse Camacho, Christina Fox, Helen Johns, Alex Karzis, Ron Lea
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tech-savvy teen friends Gabby Harrison (China Anne McClain) and Mae Hartley (Kelli Berglund) envision a bright future for themselves as pioneering scientists if they can get through high school. Yet while Gabby sees boys as a needless distraction, Mae is hopelessly infatuated with handsome quarterback Jaden Stark (Noah Centineo). Unfortunately Jaden opts to go to prom with mean cheerleader captain Nevaeh Barnes (Ashley Argota) instead, leaving Mae heartbroken. To cheer her up, Gabby hacks the video game company run by Mae's father, James Hartley (Roger Bart) and uses its super-computer to create the perfect boyfriend. What they don't know is James is not a game designer at all but rather a scientist who creates combat robots for the military. As a result his latest robotic super-soldier turns up at school the next day as Albert (Marshall Williams), a super-hot, macho yet kind and sensitive boyfriend who dotes on Mae's every need. While Mae ends up the envy of every other girl at school, Gabby tries to figure out what is going on. Neither girl realizes a team of evil secret agents and the American military are after Albert too.

Despite featuring teenagers as protagonists Disney tween television movies are aimed at a younger age range and skewed towards their fantasies of what teen life is like. Hence you are unlikely to find any of the insight, emotional honesty or occasional profundity present in movies like Mean Girls (2004) or Bandslam (2009). In fact a little gem of a movie called Little Manhattan (2005) starring a young Josh Hutcherson proved it is possible to deal with adolescent romance in an insightful, witty and sensitive way but that is an avenue the Disney Channel have yet to explore. In How to Build a Better Boy screenwriter Jason Maynard gathers some promising themes (reversed gender roles, romantic expectation versus reality, friends unconsciously manipulating other friends, parental dishonesty) then sanitizes them leaving the film with all the depth of a cut-out paper doll.

Even by Disney's saccharine standards this is one seriously sugary confection with pastel-shaded production designing providing a bubblegum backdrop to this trite tale of polka-dot clad schoolgirls going ga-ga over their boy toy. Certainly Marshall Williams encapsulates the sort of bland beefcake one might imagine a tween girl would dream up for herself. Yet while it is quite funny to watch Albert melt the hearts of every girl at school with his sensitivity and devotion to Mae, he seems a tad too self-aware and has too much personality considering he is a robot. The plot comes across like a Disney tween variation on Making Mr. Right (1987) mixed with the hardware goes rogue premise of Japanese anime Madox-01 (1987) only with even less depth. As a comedy the film's best asset is Matt Shively, one of the stars of Nickelodeon's genuinely witty tween sitcom True Jackson V.P. He plays Mae's brother who harbours a not-so-secret crush on Gabby. Shively's easygoing comic charm melds well with seasoned character actor Roger Bart. Their scenes stand-out. On a side-note, Shively's True Jackson V.P. co-star Ashley Argota essays an atypical 'villain' role. While she acquits herself well it has become somewhat disconcerting just how many Disney tween films cast an Asian actress as the mean girl. What is going on there?

Disney sitcom stars China Anne McClain and Kelli Berglund have great chemistry. Yet while they nail the odd funny line (e.g. when Gabby likens high school boys to old smartphones: they are slow, riddled with bugs and keep crashing) and hit some welcome emotional notes in a small moment towards the finale, their personal plot-lines prove all too predictable and shallow. While it is likely the target audience of hot-boy-crazy tween girls will still lap this up, one can't help but feel they deserve a much smarter and wittier comedy.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1382 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: