The story of a man creating life is a classic tale, and has been done hundreds of times...sometimes done as horror (think "Frankenstein") and sometimes done for laughs. "Brian and Charles" is a small British comedy about a lonely man who creates and then becomes best friends with his robot creation, and it's done with such sweetness, that it becomes hard to resist.
"Brian and Charles" began as a short film in 2017, from the team of David Earl, Chris Hayward and Jim Archer. This same team joins to give us a feature-film version, a "mockumentary"-style comedy about friendship and humanity...loneliness and innovation.
Brian (Earl) is a humble (and bumbling) inventor, who lives an isolated life. Apparently a film crew has decided to follow him around, so we get segments of him speaking directly to the camera and occasionally, him bumping into the cameraman. He's a failed creator, but is proud of his inventions, like his "pine cone purse," which is what it sounds like: A bag with pine cones glued to it.
But his greatest invention of all is the sentient robot, Charles (voiced and performed by Chris Hayward), who has the head of a mannequin and the body of a washing machine. Brian decidedly learns that Charles is an important part of his life, just as Charles learns that he does indeed need Brian.
"Brian and Charles," at the point where Charles enters the story, becomes a sort of British version of the 1986 classic, "Short Circuit," a film that saw a man learn to love his fascinating robot companion...all the while, the robot would humorously expose some of the ridiculousness of human behavior, as only a non-human can do.
As it wears on, you can tell that "Brian and Charles" started as a short, because it feels a bit thin and light. But the endearing performances by both Earl and Hayward hold things together just enough, to where it's impossible not to just smile at most of the duo's predictable shenanigans, despite the film's many short-comings. You'll root for them, without investing too heavily, but you won't regret your time spent in their company.
Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes.
Starring: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie.
Written by David Earl & Chris Hayward.
Directed by Jim Archer (feature-film directorial debut).
"Brian and Charles" is in theaters on Friday, June 17th, 2022.
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