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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There are some positive messages about the importance of family and sticking together, but the message gets muddled against the background of a father's suicide.
Positive Role Models
Young Josh works hard to invent Newman the Robot and is remarkably gifted with computers and robotics. He helps his classmates learn about computers and is generally kind to his younger brother Max. The robot/dad is mostly funny and helpful, but sometimes seems a bit creepy.
Violence & Scariness
The father of the family is thought to be dead due to suicide. Some comic pratfalls as the robot punches one of the bad guys in the crotch and proceeds to trip another character onto a wheeled cart that sends him knocking into bowling balls, which sends a bowling ball falling from the highest shelf above him. Bullying is implied at school from the son of the bad guy of the film, and eventually they get into a fight.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief kissing between teen Josh and his girlfriend. Sexual implications when Sarah leads Newman (the robot) into the bedroom. Some silly innuendo from the robot ("you can tighten my screws anytime" and "I think I'm overheating!).
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A young boy asks, "Where the hell have you been?"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the bad guys smokes a cigarette while working in his storage shop.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this dated comedy about a robot come to life concerns a family dealing with the aftermath of a father's presumed suicide. Despite this serious topic, the movie takes a silly approach to the family's concern for the dad. Full of goofy pratfalls and some mild innuendo, this is a film kids can easily skip, unless they want to laugh at the outdated computer equipment and old-fashioned clothing. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While '80s kids might enjoy the kitsch factor of Alan Thicke from Growing Pains playing a wise-cracking robot, this movie hasn't exactly aged well since its 1991 release. The big hair, the big phones, and big computers scream "early nineties." The robot Newman, Macguyvered out of spare parts from the garage, will surely test the credulity of more sophisticated and skeptical kids.
As a simple and lighthearted family comedy, perhaps this would be enjoyable enough on its own, but its attempts at bringing suicide into the story are poorly handled at best, and at worst, border on offensive to those who are or have experienced this tragedy.
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.