Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Now I’m curious. What exactly is the criteria that the good people behind ‘National Lampoon’ use for licensing their name behind some alleged comedy movie? As I pull a few out of memory… ‘Pucked’, ‘Ratko: The Dictator’s Son’, ‘TV The Movie’… it would seem to us over here that actual comedy is definitely not the number one factor. This brings us to today’s movie featuring the ‘National Lampoon Presents…’ prefix, that being ‘Robodoc’ and sure enough this movie isn’t very funny which has us wondering how they choose these things. This one does have the Michael Winslow factor going for it, and he makes those funny sounds with his mouth for about twelve seconds, so perhaps that sold them on this ‘comedy’ as a viable vehicle. There is also the forgotten sitcom actor factor since this film features Alan Thicke, late of ‘Growing Pains’ and probably doing everything in his power to avoid his co-star from that show Kirk Cameron from trying to save his misbegotten soul, then there’s a Bud Bundy sighting in David Faustino and a Parker Lewis sighting in Corin Nemec who apparently has taken a small vacation from making horrific Sci-Fi Channel flicks to make this horrific comedy. Parker Lewis and Bud Bundy are listed as producers in this film so this explains their presence somewhat. But the question remains… How do they choose this junk?

Unlike most of the drivel we’ve seen wearing the National Lampoon badge of honor this movie is actually lampooning something of national relevance in Health Care Reform. Oh, it just hit me how this one suddenly got picked up. Anyway Dr. Roskin (Thicke) is the head of this hospital we will be spending time at, and his doctors are overworked and constantly sued. When his latest doctor quits, that being the doctor played by Michael Winslow who makes those crazy sounds with his mouth on his way out the door, Roskin begs his chief administrator for assistance.

Fortunately the parent company of this hospital has been working on a high tech robot doctor prototype, codenamed Robodoc, created by scientist Jason Dockery (Faustino) and his partner Kevin (Lucius Baston). We’re probably giving the character of Kevin too much credit since he really only reads porn mags and cracks an occasional unfunny joke, but he is there whenever Jason and Robodoc are together so we’ve gone ahead and elevated the brother to co-creator status.

Damn if Robodoc (William Haze) doesn’t work out just fabulously. Actor William Haze apparently stayed up nights watching Star Trek the Next Generation as a study guide for his character of RoboDoc. Brent Spiner is either pissed or proud. The problem is considering that Robodoc doesn’t make mistakes, the evil lawyer dude in this movie (Kenny Babel) can’t get paid no more and the evil doctor (Nemec) helping the evil lawyer can’t get paid either so an evil plan is launched to bring down the excellence that is Robodoc. There’s also a little love story on the side, kind of, since Robodoc is modeled after pretty Doctor Mills (Christine Scott Bennett) dead fiancé but we’re not going to get into all of that. Can Jason the creator and his buddy Kevin who uses the scanner in between reading porno mags stop the evil dudes, and can Robodoc save the cross eyed kids? Did I mention the cross eyed kids? Don’t worry about all of that.

‘Robodoc’ wasn’t very good, it wasn’t very funny despite how hard it tried, and it did give it maximum effort… but… and this is no compliment mind you… ‘Robodoc’ did manage to be funnier than the last few ‘National Lampoon’ joints I’ve seen. Seriously. I wanted to jump off a skyscraper after seeing ‘Pucked’ which also featured Mr. Faustino, and I needed a bath after watching ‘TV The Movie’. There are more really, really bad movies we’ve seen bearing the National Lampoon name, including this one, but at least this wasn’t as stupefyingly bad as those flicks.

Michael Winslow making funny sounds with his mouth probably stopped being funny after the first Police Academy flick, if it was even funny then, mime influenced gay sex was probably much funnier in theory than it was in the actual execution, same for cross eyed kids. Plus those poor kids having to cross their eyes for extended periods of times had to hurt like hell and probably violated all kinds of child labor laws.

The movie was written by a pair of real authentic actual doctors so it was politically topical and simply by that it did stumble upon an authentic actual funny joke here and there, but for the most part we were kind of stuck watching this movie with that always uncomfortable silence. You know that silence when a joke just happened and it’s not funny and it makes you sad that it’s not funny? What this movie really needed was a laugh track which does a great job of covering up those moments. After seven or eight unfunny seasons on ‘Growing Pains’ Alan Thicke probably knows this better than anybody.

If you have to watch a ‘National Lampoon Presents’ movie made after the ‘Vacation’ series then track down ‘Bag Boy’. That wasn’t too bad. ‘Robodoc’ unfortunately goes on the pile of National Lampoon garbage. You get the tinder I’ll find the match.

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