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HEARTBEEPS

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, July 17, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s true that bad movies are sometimes more fun to write about than good movies. It’s more difficult to come up with praise without going over the top. But bad movies open themselves up to jokey writing, though that can also be a bit difficult, without sounding smug or condescending. Anyway, here’s an example of my own efforts on behalf of the latter with one of the most vilified movies of the 1980s … and it came out in 1981! My review was published in the Deseret News on Dec. 24, 1981. Yes, it was a major Christmas release. And for some reason (are there really fans out there?), Kino Lorber has given the film a Blu-ray upgrade. Go figure.

 “Heartbeeps” is as cute as a bug’s ear. Now picture yourself sitting for 79 minutes in a theater staring at a bug’s ear and you’ll get an idea of just how boring “Heartbeeps” is.

In fact, a bug’s ear might be more entertaining.

What we have here is another brief comic TV skit stretched out to feature length.

     

Andy Kaufman, best known as Latka (lately Vic Ferrari) on TV’s “Taxi,” and Bernadette Peters (“Pennies From Heaven,” “The Jerk”) star as two futuristic robots who fall in love — or the mechanical equivalent — and set out on a “Wizard of Oz”-style journey.

With them is another robot that talks in one-liners and along the way they build a baby robot that travels with them.

Kaufman and Peters, who both possess very expressive faces, are required to be expressionless with bronze-like makeup and they walk and turn stiffly, as well. That’s fine for about 10 minutes, then it begins to wear thin.

Most of the jokes are merely comparisons of mechanical responses to human emotions, all of them on a very elementary level.

     

The odd thing here is that the one-liners spewed forth from the Henny Youngman-ish robot are supposed to be bad but they’re no worse than any other joke in the film.

Completely wasted are talented actors Randy Quaid and Kenneth McMillan, and Christopher Guest and Melanie Mayron are unrecognizable as a couple of junkyard owners.

And we mustn’t forget Crimebuster, another robot that is a cross between a police car and a tank, in hot pursuit of Peters and Kaufman, talking like a manic Robert Stack.

“Heartbeeps” is, however, a clean picture and kids may enjoy it. But if you don’t need a nap, send them, don’t take them.