Movie Review: LOREN THE ROBOT BUTLER: TEACH ME HOW TO DOUGIE! (2016)

festival posterLOREN THE ROBOT BUTLER: TEACH ME HOW TO DOUGIE!

Seen at the July 2016 Under 5min. FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Directed by Paul McGinnis

Loren, a proper British robot and formally the head butler for a very wealthy family, has been replaced with a Roomba and stored in the basement. Now the kids program him to teach them stuff.

Movie Review by Kierston Drier

Light, bright and whimsical, Loren The Robot Butler, written, directed and creatively lead by  Paul McGinnis, entices the inner child of us all. The film’s premise is established in just a few quick moments, and with the help of a charming opening tune, explaining that an outdated robotic butler sits unused in a family’s basement, and spends his retired life teaching children. Perpetually upbeat and sporting the quintessential British Accent, our friendly butler protagonist speaks directly to the audience as though they are the very children of the household where he is kept. At the children’s request, he takes on the mission to teach them how to “Dougie”, from the well known 80’s rapper Doug E. Fresh.

The humor comes easily on several level- most liminally, from the contrast of a British robot butler, attempting to recreate hip-hop music. The upper-crust British sound and robotic movement parodying the relaxed sway of the music beat and hip-hop/rap dialect. Further, there is humor in the form of breaking of the fourth wall with the audience, and from the shock that our robot friend not only executes the dance- but does so exceptionally well!

This piece is a delightful romp through the whimsical world of song and dance as seen through the eyes of a child, but there is a level deeper. It does speak to the element of old technology trying to keep up with the new, modern and current.

The most astonishing, staggering and interesting part of Loren The Robot Butler, however, is not it’s comedy or its use of social commentary. It is it’s artistry. At first glance, this piece could be mistaken as a completely CGI 3D animation. In reality, the entire piece is performed by three puppeteers, manning the upper bottle and each leg independently. The amazing truth is, this exceptionally complicated dance move is performed in perfect execution by highly trained professionals  (Lead by McGinnis) manning one doll behind a green screen, resulting in seamless and flawless dance that passes as computer generated. This is a feat of puppeteer mastery and specialized skill rarely seen in Cinema since Dark Crystal, (Let’s not talk about Team America) and at the very least should be applauded.

Whether Lorne The Robot Butler  is a proof of concept for a delightful children’s TV show, or a demo reel for some exceptional puppeteers, it is regardless a lovely, light comedy sure to entertain.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film:

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