The Strange Case Of Senor Computer (2000)

It starts like a classic Noir thriller, with a robot, IKE, alone with his dead inventor, telling us his story while he waits for the police to arrive.

Nebbishy inventor Charles O’Toole (Rick Ziegler) thinks his attempt to create the ultimate in artificial intelligence failed when IKE remains silent and motionless after he turns the robot on for the first time. He fails to recognize that IKE is in shock from the sudden rush of new sensations – and like an infant must learn about the world around him slowly.

Fortunately Charles’ housekeeper recognizes this -and helps him learn by introducing him to television. Before long, he masters the use of credit cards and has developed a considerable knowledge of the Electronica music scene. He also finds himself in a growing romantic relationship with a DJ he met over the phone. So IKE decides he needs to help Charles to get a date, and coaches Charles to take his place with the DJ.  Unfortunately IKE soon learns that he doesn’t really understand human nature – and that his social skills are far more developed than those of his master…
The film is decidedly minimal, shot in grainy black and white – and set almost entirely in one house. IKE himself is big and boxy and looks a little like a cross between an Electrolux vacuum cleaner and an old TV set. He sounds like Stephen Hawkings, which shouldn’t come as a surprise as writer/director Tom Sawyer used the same Apple voice simulation software to create IKE’s dialog. The film has a marvelously deadpan sense of humor with more than its share of absurd details. Some may be turned off by the endless drone of IKE’s computer generated voice, but the film itself is a sprightly black comedy that somehow manages to find unexplored territory in the old Frankenstein theme.

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