Years in the making, written and coaxed to the screen by Space Coast radiologist and sometime-comedy writer Dr. Doug Gordon, Robodoc has Central Florida fingerprints all over it. It was filmed and largely financed here.
But as much as I'd like to sing its praises -- in the age-old tradition of Siskel & Ebert never bad-mouthing a movie made in their native Chicago -- I can't. Robodoc never gets off comic life-support.
'National Lampoon Presents Robodoc'
Cast: Will Haze, Alan Thicke, David Faustino, Christine Scott Bennett.
Director: Stephen Maddocks.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
Industry rating: R for crude sexual content and nudity.
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A stumbling satire of a malpractice-marred medical profession, Robodoc has a sitcom-trained cast that should be able to land the one-liners -- Alan Thicke
as an embattled chief of medicine, David Faustino (Married with Children) as inventor of a malpractice-proof robot doctor (Will Haze). What's missing are the one-liners. Gordon has a message about rapacious lawyers (Kenny Babel, the funniest thing in the movie) crushing medicine. But he forgot to add enough giggles.
The leering, Benny Hill-worthy sex jokes (Nurse Fonda Johnsons, anyone?); the wacky-tedious court trial (filmed in the Orange County History Center
) aimed at taking down the "perfect" doctor; the Mr. Data movements of Robodoc himself -- none achieve much more than a smirk. Faustino is particularly ill-used, with not a single funny thing to say or do.
This feels like a failed sitcom pilot circa 1988, one the producers would have to clean up to put on the air after Married With Children. The racial stereotyping and R-rated sexual content is juvenile in the extreme, beneath even the recent lower-than-low standards of National Lampoon
Every movie that makes it to the finish line -- a theater -- is something of a miracle, and a real triumph of self-promotion and persistence. But in this case, all that effort seems misguided, even delusional. Was this ever funny, even as a script?
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