In the near future, robots have become a commonplace part of family life, providing 24/7 companionship to children. Alberte’s (Selma Iljazovski) teddy bear like robot, Robbi (voice of Lars Brygmann) is extremely out of date, so they use a connection to get her an advance example of the brand new model. Konrad (Philip Elbech Andresen) is so lifelike, he could be a real boy. When she discovers that’s exactly what he is, Alberte is at first betrayed, but then must set off on an adventure to help him.

I can see the appeal, especially for kids who are isolated or picked on, of having something like the robots depicted in the world that Alberte and her friends inhabit. Indeed, I might have found value in something like it when I was young myself. That said, what writer/director Frederik Meldal Nørgaard seems to largely miss here is how incredibly dystopian the world of his film is. The robots are essentially child-shaped slaves, programmed to always be friends with their assigned kid and (unless there are parental controls) obey them. That’s before you get to the implications of where Konrad comes from, which are the stuff of nightmares, and dealt with very briefly. In some ways, the approach reminds me of the Chris Pratt/Jennifer Lawrence disaster Passengers. Buried in both stories is a pretty good horror movie, but neither explores it.
My Robot Brother

All this said, it’s important to also approach a kids movie from their perspective. Taken at that level, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. Robbi is a character I expect children will especially take to. He’s a giant teddy who lives to tell bedtime stories, and his outdated tech means that he often mispronounces words (“would you like a mug”? He asks, when going to hug people). Selma Iljazovski gives a fine performance as Alberte. She sells the variety of emotions that she has to hit, for instance, I believe her when she wants ‘real’ friends more than her state of the art robot, even though it’s only his presence that got those people to talk to her in the first place. On the other hand, there are also moments of genuinely sweet connection between her and Konrad, as well as her and Robbi.

The film’s third act moves into adventure, rescuing Konrad in a sequence that recalls, though can’t match, a film that is namechecked earlier in the running time. I was surprised how invested I found myself here, though that’s probably as much down to the appalling implications that go much further than the surface quest to get Konrad back as the character relationships that have been built up. A sweet ending feels rushed, and a little implausible, but it’s a comforting way to wrap things up for the target audience.

Even for kids, My Robot Brother may ultimately be a little thin, but it’s a fun distraction, and if you don’t think about the real world implications of the story, you might well have a good time too.

My Robot Brother
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my-robot-brother-reviewFun enough for kids, but if you’re over 12 you’re likely to long for the depth that the dystopian plot could have been explored in.