A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
While there's nothing instructional, the film is a social-emotional demonstration of the fact that some friendships aren't forever, and that's OK.
Having a friend is a joyful experience, and friends can grow from the time they spend together. Sometimes even close friends drift away, but new friendships will be made, and that can lead to new experiences. Themes of friendship and loneliness, and Robot's story is likely to inspire compassion.
Positive Role Models
Dog and Robot have a close friendship -- they get each other. When Robot is stuck on the beach, Dog tries everything he can to get him out. When he's finally able to legally free Robot, he returns. Still, some viewers might think Dog could have done more.
Violence & Scariness
Robot gets stuck and can't be retrieved for months. While circumstances, rather than a lack of trying, prevent his rescue, it emotionally plays like abandonment. Parts of Robot's body are removed and thrown around, which viewers may perceive as cruelty.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Dog goes on a date with Duck. Robot and Dog hold hands and put an arm around each other as part of their friendship.
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In one comedic scene, a few middle fingers are flipped.
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Products & Purchases
Brands are everywhere to help establish character and life in 1980s New York, including Cheetos, Froot Loops, Coke, Vespa, White Castle, Jelly Belly, and Ginsu knives.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Robot Dreams is a dialogue-free animated film about the joy and fragility of friendship. It's based on Sara Varon's graphic novel about the relationship between a dog and the robot he builds. Comedic and poignant, it has very little iffy content -- just one brief comedic scene where characters flip their middle fingers at someone. But the movie's kid-friendly cartoon artwork belies the emotion of the story's circumstances. Robot's parts rust on the beach, stranding him alone in the sand for months: He's paralyzed, escaping his situation through wishful imaginative scenarios and memories of his best friend, Dog (who fills the void by keeping active with new friends). Robot knows Dog can't get to him, but viewers may still experience Robot's situation as abandonment. This, and the brutish treatment he receives from those who come across him and think he's scrap, is likely to send your compassion into overdrive (and possibly spark tears). Just know that (spoiler alert!) an unpredictable but happy ending is on the way -- one that's a great conversation starter for tweens. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Robot Dreams transcends language to create a wordless, emotional experience that sums up how friendship completes us. It reinforces a truth for many people: Life can be better if you share it with someone. This simple, sweet story demonstrates how a good friend can enhance your life. And how, when that someone isn't there, you can ache.
Dog and Robot's experiences may inspire viewers to fill in their own memories of wonderful times with friends who are no longer in their lives. For kids, losing a friend because of a move, a new school, or a change in activities can be pretty tough. Robot Dreams isn't necessarily the salve for that hurt, especially because Robot encounters some harsh realities while away from Dog. But the movie is an excellent, if emotional, companion piece for tweens or teens who finds themselves between friends, suggesting that hope is on the way.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.