All systems malfunction in 'Robot Jox'

January 28, 1991|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

Just when you think you've seen it all, along come something new and fresh to reaffirm your faith in human mediocrity.

"Robot Jox," now at the Westview, is just such an inanity, a live-action Saturday Morning Cartoon. It takes the bad acting, ludicrous plotting, and absurd conceits of those crummy little half-hour shows and gives them flesh and spirit and vividness. Now on the big screen, for millions of bucks: the bad, the ludicrous and the absurd.

Gary Graham, who looks a little like Mick Jagger, plays a tough old "robot athlete" who sits in the head of a 50-foot metal man and engineers slo-mo mechanized-karate against another such creature with a nasty Russky in the cockpit, as a way of settling international disputes without nuclear war.

The movie, sadly directed by the great horror film maker Stuart Gordon, responsible for the artful atrocity called "Re-Animator," is strictly a case of high kitsch and low budget but it lacks the dangerous edge of "Re-Animator." The acting is a joke and the robots look like the $8.95 Transformers that were all the rage among pre-adolescent boys some years ago.

But the clothes! Ah, sweet mystery of life! When did the committee meet that decided that in all visions of the future, everybody would wear silver? Poor Graham has to spend most of the movie -- that is, when he's not playing Jiminy Cricket to Mecca-Godzilla while dressed like an electronic linebacker -- in a silver-lame jumpsuit that make his buns stand out like Pudding Pops. It's that kind of movie.

'Robot Jox'

Starring Gary Graham.

Directed by Stuart Gordon.

Released by Triumph.

Rated PG.

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