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Rated PG
Copyright 1981 Cinema Plus LP
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 30 July 2006

The Characters:  

  • Val - Andy Kaufman! I keep wondering if they glued his eyelids open.
  • Aqua - Bernadette Peters! She was designed to support the ego of human males by appearing interested in them.
  • Phil - Jerry Garcia! The spare part offspring of Aqua and Val. It mostly warbles and pets bunnies.
  • Catskill - Jack Carter! A comedian robot whose jokes are set on stun.
  • Charlie - Randy Quaid! I would like to present this as concrete proof that Randy Quaid was once young.
  • Max - Charlie's coworker at the robot factory.
  • The Crimebuster 2000 Deluxe - Samuel L. Bronkowitz presents Ron Gans as "The Fat Dalek!"

Buy It!

The Plot: 

This movie is the worst one I have tackled in a while. It was, no kidding, excruciatingly painful for me. You have to understand, I can enjoy a bad science fiction or fantasy film. There is often something to laugh at and, if they are trying to convey a message, the writers usually do not push it in your face every four minutes. Bad comedies are not fun, are not entertaining, and can be terminally annoying. Watching a bad comedy goes against every reason I enjoy b-movies.

"Heartbeeps" is seventy-eight minutes long. Many people would find that watching paint dry for two hours and thirty-six minutes would be preferable. Yes, it is twice as boring as paint drying. On the eve of destruction (of my soul), my wife looked at what I was about to put in the DVD player and promptly went to bed, but was kept awake for some time by my cries of agony.

Val is returned to the factory for repair after his foot is damaged. Max and Charlie engage in some harmless work-related chatter as they locate a storage shelf for the robot and finally place him next to Aqua. A third robot, Catskill, is shoved onto the shelf before most of the factory workers punch their timecards. It bears mentioning that Catskill holds a cigar and always has thick smoke rising from him, even when placed on the "for repair" shelf. Where is OSHA when you need them?

Alone on the shelf, Val and Aqua strike up a conversation. Mostly boring stuff, like the beautiful sunset or what their primary function is as a companion series robot. The two mechanical flirts agree that they are compatible in many ways and start making eyes at each other. Especially Aqua, who slowly bats her optics open and closed. Shrrick! Click! Somebody oil that woman's shutters, good grief. Anyway, the couple shares a short circuit and decides to take a trip to see what else exists outside the factory; Catskill follows them. Val discovers a truck in the factory parking lot, thus allowing them to conserve energy and reduce the time in transit. This, of course, provides for funny dialog as Aqua makes a request for a reduction in speed to enhance safety and Val denies the request. The truck ends up smashed between two trees.

Only Max, Charlie, and a security guard (Dick Miller!) staff the factory at night. They play some sort of game, except when the security guard makes his rounds. So, while the robots' disappearance is discovered, it is only much later. The workers discuss the missing robots in front of a malfunctioning Crimebuster 2000 Deluxe. Now the runaways have humans and a heavily armed law enforcement droid on their trail.

It should be mentioned that the film's music is that slow, sweet sort of synthesizer stuff that signals people are falling in love. Except when the Crimebuster is on screen and it changes to a quick "people are being hunted" theme.

The fugitives build a little robot from parts of the damaged truck and spare circuits. We are given to believe that the intent behind Phil's assembly is transporting spare parts, but the way Val and Aqua react to the small addition to the family is more like a child. Of course, nobody finds a mule endearing. Not that anyone finds this movie endearing, either.

Following a close encounter with a bear (not close enough; Val's head is still attached), the robots set themselves up in a cave. Along with providing shelter from the elements, the cave hides them from Max and Charlie, who are now using something with a rotor to look for the missing robots. It also gives Aqua and Val some privacy. They begin hugging, murmuring about their pleasure circuits being faulty and generally making intimate contact about as sterile as possible. Imagine a traveling salesman, wearing the pinstriped suit and all, rubbing a pair of toasters together while yelling, "Hot sex!" Yeah, I get it. Get on with it.

Not that Val could ever satisfy Aqua. He is probably a NEMA 5-15P, while she looks like a 10-30R to me.

Eventually the little group finds a relative metropolis in the wilderness and raids the hardware store. Many useful parts are obtained. Sadly, power packs are sold out. Rather ominous news, since the robots have no way to recharge. Despite disguising themselves as walking trees and rigging for silent running, the four robots are accosted by the Crimebuster 2000 Deluxe. The public defender is ready to shoot many holes in the fugitives until Val confuses its logic circuits. The little nuclear family scurries away. A nearby party provides a likely environment to hide from the cybertracker. Not a very good hiding place. The Crimebuster quickly locates them and crashes the party (literally).

Still on the run, Val and Aqua have a marital spat when she obsesses that the couple does not share information as often as they used to. Though it only lasts a few minutes, the symbolism drags on until Val apologizes. Ah, smell that? Allegory. Anyway, the path eventually wanders through a junkyard. The robots meet two geeks who live amongst the piles of technological refuse. They also cross paths with the Crimebuster again. Lucky for Phil that Calvin and Susan (the goofy humans) are members of Greenpeace's techie equivalent. Leaping onto the Crimebuster, they tear out wires; the death machine is deactivated before it can fulfill its function.

Both Aqua and Val have serious reservations about the power situation. They determine that the best course of action is to return to the factory and hope for the best. The husband and wife also mislead each other about their remaining power levels, meaning that both will expire when each thinks the other will make it. Catskill is largely ignored, until the electric parents see him pulling out Phil's power pack and switching it with his own. Despite what you may think, the comedic iron giant is not stealing the little robot's power. Turns out that, despite constantly cracking jokes, the comedian still had 44% power remaining. Though this was noble and such, the movie completely screws up the presentation. It comes off as just another check in the box for the script.

Why did Catskill have so much power left? His jokes were set on low power. Boy, that was no surprise to me; the jokes were bad. Not as bad as the movie, because the jokes did not make me try to tear my face off with my bare hands. Try doing that for over an hour. Not fun.

The parent robots eventually run down within a mile of the factory, though Catskill failed a bit earlier. Max and Charlie pick them up and throw the lifeless forms into their pickup, ready to cart them back and wipe the memory circuits. Phil is left alone in the underbrush, awaiting his own certain demise due to battery life or corrosion. At this point, any viewer who has suffered through the film probably considers it a happy ending. The writer even takes that away. Damn you, John Hill. Damn you to Hell.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Blondes equate banana daiquiris with a higher power.
  • We need to find a better use for trees.
  • Children should come with Lojack as factory standard equipment.
  • Bears are not logical.
  • Capri Sun and Coors will eventually announce a corporate merger.
  • Despair starts with the letter "H" and ends with the letter "S."
  • Love is entirely dependent upon direct current.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 4 mins - Dienekes, it is time for your close-up.
  • 8 mins - You know, this warehouse is terribly inefficient in its use of space.
  • 11 mins - Right there, the only funny part of the entire movie. Enjoy it while you can.
  • 25 mins - But it took a human disaster of a movie to cause me such agony. This movie needs to stop.
  • 33 mins - Must be Eegah's pet bear...
  • 42 mins - Please stop. Please, please stop.
  • 48 mins - Exterminate!
  • 52 mins - "No rabbits were harmed in the making of this movie, except five hundred that died during test screenings."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note heartbeeps1.wav Val: "We would be mechanically compatible for many similar functions."
Aqua: "The same thought just crossed my grid."
Green Music Note heartbeeps2.wav The Crimebuster: "I cannot rest. It is my duty to make the world safe for democracy!"
Green Music Note heartbeeps3.wav Aqua: "It's a junkyard."
Val: "That's exactly what we need - an unlimited supply of replacement parts."
Val: "It's causing my pleasure center to malfunction."
Val: "Mine too."
Green Music Note heartbeeps4.wav Catskill tells a joke.
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipheartbeeps1.mpg - 2.7m
This would be the part where Val, Aqua, Catskill, and Phil meet the friendly nerds who maintain a tech junkyard. The hissing sound you hear is your brain cells cooking.

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