I wonder how many times they spun the “quirky genre mash” wheel before hitting, “it’s WarGames/Neuromancer as a whimsical romcom/dramedy about family!” Novelty aside, the actual story just dusts off a large collection of hoary tropes, so most of the sell of the movie is in its execution. Milquetoast protagonist thrown into a situation where he’ll be forced to man up and grow some sort of a spine? Check. Plucky, headstrong female love interest who is forced to come to terms with her own feelings? Check. Aloof black sheep who secretly longs for approval and understanding? Check. Rogue AI that threatens the planet with nuclear Armageddon? Check check check.
Fortunately the finished product manages to actually be pretty charming without becoming too self-consciously offbeat or sickeningly sweet. And let’s face it, as contrived as the plot and characters are, it’s also true that I might actually be moved to watch quirky indie romances from time to time if they featured more lavishly animated throw downs with deranged computer programs in cyberspace.
Speaking of which, the notion of an AI programmed to consume whatever information it can get its hands on brought back memories of V’ger, but fortunately we are spared being forced to watch extended moments of ponderous awkwardness like this:
Nor does Love Machine turn out to be a Geocities webpage or some such nonsense.
Anyway, perhaps the best thing about the movie is how it never really lets the whole internet apocalypse plot hijack its laid back feeling. You don’t feel like there’s a bait-and-switch a half hour into it. It’s about people hanging out and being normal in stress situations. It falls into that Rio Bravo ‘grace under pressure’ genre, which I see less often than I like.
And besides, it seems as though our Google/Facebook/Apple saturated times have falsified the whole “Harrison Ford retiring replicants” vision of the future. But 2019 is still a few years away…