Our RoboCop Remake (2014)

I don’t know what it says about my attention span lately that I’ve been watching so many anthology-structured comedies built out of isolated sketches instead of an overarching narrative. Out of all those recent selections, though, including the stoner culture comedy The Groove Tube & the Italian Fantasia parody Allegro non troppo, I don’t think any have been as fractured or as loosely defined as Our RoboCop Remake, which actually does follow a strict narrative throughline. Crowd-funded & practically crowd-directed, Our RoboCop Remake is a scene for scene “remake” of the Paul Verhoeven classic RoboCop. Just as Alex Murphy’s robo-body is violently disassembled in RoboCop 2, the editors behind this fan-made reimagining divided the 1987 RoboCop feature between 50 contributing filmmakers, who individually remade scenes of the film for varying comedic effects. The movie was curated as a tongue-in-cheek protest of the then-upcoming major studio remake of RoboCop released that same year. This is explained on the film’s website with the mission statement: “Because if anyone’s going to ruin RoboCop, it’s us.” Although uneven by nature and at times painfully unfunny, the film is a lot more vibrantly energized & aggressively strange than its major studio counterpart, which makes it a lot more in tune with Verhoeven’s original vision than that PG-13 bore.

It’s difficult to imagine watching Our RoboCop Remake without having seen its source material, which might be its one major flaw in comparison to 2014’s other robo-reboot. Every scene is such an isolated, comically absurd send-up of the Original Flavor RoboCop moment it’s parodying that the story would be impossible to follow (or care about) if it weren’t for the primary movie’s legacy. The scene to scene range of talent & production value in everything from writing to costuming is violently drastic, including both intricately-constructed ED-209 puppets & out of the box Party City RoboCop costumes. Still, the movie easily survives on the strength of individual moments & gags and is consistently charming in the juvenile audacity of its basic premise. In stand-out moments comedian Steve Agee delivers a Tim & Eric style infomercial for prosthetic hearts, RoboCop explodes dozens of would-be rapists’ genitals, and an MGM lawyer serves the audience with a “Cease & Desist” order to shut the entire operation down. The comedy can be disappointingly bro-minded in some stretches, with an overabundance of dick jokes guiding the way. Helpful text at the bottom of the screen indicates the contributors involved in each segment, though, (sometimes amusingly so, especially in the case of a brief Drive spoof attributed to Nicolas Winding Refn), so any eyeroll-worthy moments of failed humor are quarantined well enough to not ruin the mood entirely. By the time the whole movie ends on a credits sequence involving multiple breakdancing RoboCops, as if it were an episode of Strangers with Candy, its general party vibe is undeniably infectious.

As with the similarly-spirited “illegal movie” Girl Walk//All Day, Our RoboCop Remake demands respect merely by maintaining its outsized ambition against the odds of its budget & circumstance. The range of its various mediums, from live action comedy sketches to amateur puppetry to crude computer animation to interpretive dance & musical theater, overcomes any disappointments in its inconsistent tone. The film is also deliriously over-the-top in its nudity & violence and deliberately devolves into an Ultimate Reality style of post-modern deconstruction towards its climax in ways that pay homage to Verhoeven’s reputation as a subversive button pusher without producing anything resembling a carbon copy of his work. The film is similar to the mixed bag results of Gus Van Sant’s “shot for shot” remake of Psycho, except that it’s much easier to imagine yelling at it while downing a case of cheap beer with your most idiotic friends. That’s not too bad of a result for a crowd-funded parody of an 80s action film stretched across dozens of filmmakers with varying levels of raw talent.

-Brandon Ledet

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