Heartbeeps (1981)

Article 4330 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-8-2013
Directed by Allan Arkush
Featuring Andy Kaufman, Bernadette Peters, Randy Quaid
Country: USA
What it is: Romantic robot comedy

Three robots (two of which have fallen in love) escape from a factory to live in the wilderness. However, the employees and the factory want them back, and a crime-busting police robot is on their tail…

I’m going to come right out and admit that I was actually a bit moved by a sad scene near the end of this movie, an admission I make with the understanding that it reveals me to be the old softie I am. It is an embarrassing thing to admit, though, because when you come right down to it, the movie isn’t really worth it; though the central idea is interesting enough, the script is woefully underdeveloped, and unless you’re into recycled Henny Youngman jokes, it’s terribly short of laughs. The movie tries to get most of its laughs from the robotic spin that the two main characters give to their conversation, but ultimately that’s more lightly whimsical than actually funny, and it gets old long before the movie is over. This is Andy Kaufman’s sole leading role in a movie, but he’s really not the type of performer whose style lends itself to the movie medium, and though I like the physicalization he gives his character, there’s not much he can otherwise do with it. In the end, I had more fun seeing familiar faces pop up in small roles; Richard B. Shull, Dick Miller, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel and Christopher Guest all pop up. Ultimately, the movie is quite bad, but it is at least an offbeat curio.

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