Sunday, March 07, 2010

R.O.T.O.R. (1989)

Senator Combover is making a push for the White House and what better way to do so then to try and force a prototype of "police robotics" out onto the streets before its development is fully realized. This, of course, is R.O.T.O.R., or Robotic Officer Tactical Operation Research (I know these words, but that doesn't mean they go together in any cohesive manner). And like "a chainsaw on frappe," R.O.T.O.R. is released to rid the streets of Dallas from criminal scum like the woman whose fiancee was speeding because this is who he chases for the majority of the film. Luckily for her, the Marlboro Man was R.O.T.O.R.'s main developer and is now intent on taking him down with the aid of Dr. Steele, a roided out transvestite skunk woman.

Robocop on a budget (and clearly influenced by it) though it does hold the distinction of pre-dating T2's motorcycle cop robotic assassin except that R.O.T.O.R. looks like he would be more at home at a gay disco than the mean streets. Why exactly would anyone mustachio their robot? A fine question, I think, though I have no answer for you. His big reveal was even more of a disappointment seeing as we are shown a badass metal skeleton version of R.O.T.O.R. wearing Brian Bosworth sunglasses early on only to get that neighbor your parents told you to stay away from in the end.

This is actually a particularly difficult film to review seeing as roughly a third of the dialogue is incomprehensible due to its mumbled performances, especially the male counterpart to the Jetsons maid, Willard, who is meant as comic relief but is impossible to understand. Not that the more lucid moments are much better as characters have a tendency to say things like, "You look like you've got both eyes coming out of the same hole." On top of all this is the technical jargon used throughout R.O.T.O.R. that amounts to little more than vaguely scientific terms thrown against the wall to see what sticks. His 'Sensor Recall' was probably the most innovative if not still mind-boggling technological advance. With its use, R.O.T.O.R. is able to track people's past actions by simply removing his sunglasses and no, an explanation as to how this could possibly work is never attempted.

To be perfectly clear, I have not laughed as hard as I did during R.O.T.O.R. in a long time and for that I give it credit. It is a rousing effort that was likely made with the best of intentions and I would guess that deep down they knew the cheese was thick while making it. Not to mention that they set up a sequel in the end. How can you not love that optimism?

I will not boo at the Special Olympics.



  1. Haha! Willard The Robot was awesome and the song "Hideaway" at the end of the film is very catchy.

    Also check out our review if you want:

  2. There aren't enough words out there to tell you how much my friends and I loved this film. So much so that we've been "riffing" films like R.O.T.O.R. and other greats from the writers strike and direct to video of the 80's. If you get a second, check out our compilation.