Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Treading water at the very surface of RoboCop, there is an idea. A dense concept, ready and willing to provide no dearth of dissection for any eager student of philosophy, psychology, political science, physics — hell, any of the Ps. To simplify the idea on hand: What separates man from machine? It's a question that is not just teased by the basic premise of José Padilha's remake of the 1987 sci-fi staple, but asked outright by many of its main characters. And then never really worried about again.
We have principal parties on both sides of the ethical quandary that would place the security of our crime-ridden cities in the hands of automatons. Samuel L. Jackson plays a spitfire Bill O'Reilly who wonders why America hasn't lined its streets with high-efficiency officer droids. Zach Grenier, as a moralistic senator, gobbles his way through an opposition to the Pro-boCop movement. We hear lecture after lecture from pundits, politicians, business moguls (a money-hungry Michael Keaton heads the nefarious OmniCorp...) and scientists (...while his top doc Gary Oldman questions the nature of his assignments while poking at patients' brains and spouting diatribes about "free will"), all working their hardest to lay thematic groundwork. Each character insists that we're watching a movie about the distinction between human and artificial intelligence. That even with an active brain, no robot can understand what it means to have a heart. But when Prof. Oldman tempers his hysterical squawking and Samuel L. Hannity rolls his closing credits, we don't see these ideas taking life.
In earnest, the struggle of rehabilitated police officer Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) — nearly killed in the line of duty and turned thereafter into OmniCorp's prototype RoboCop — doesn't seem to enlist any of the questions that his aggravated peers have been asking. Murphy is transformed not just physically, but mentally — robbed of his decision-making ability and depleted of emotional brain chemicals — effectively losing himself in the process. But the journey we see take hold of Murphy is not one to reclaim his soul, although the movie touts it as such. It's really just one to become a better robot.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Meanwhile, RoboCop lays down its motives, and hard: Murphy's wife and son (Abbie Cornish and a puckish young John Paul Ruttan) lament the loss of Alex, condemning his dehumanization at the hands of Raymond Sellars' (Keaton) capitalistic experiments, and sobbing out some torrential pathos so you know just how deep this company is digging. Weaselly stooges (Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Jackie Earl Haley) line the OmniCorp roster with comical wickedness. Overseas, killer combat bots take down peaceful villages, unable to work empathetic judgment into their decision to destroy all deemed as "threats." And at the top, figures of power and money like Sellars and Pat Novak (Jackson) speak the loudest and harshest, literally justifying their agenda with a call for all naysayers to "stop whining." Clearly, RoboCop has something to say.
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And when it's devoted to its outrage, RoboCop is terrifically charming. The buzzing political world is just a tiny step closer to ridiculous than our own; the pitch meetings at OmniCorp are fun enough to provoke a ditching of all the material outside of the company walls. And one particular reference to The Wizard of Oz shows that the movie isn't above having fun with its admittedly silly premise. But it loses its magic when it steps away from goofy gimmicks and satirical monologues and heads back into the story. We don't see enough of Murphy grappling with the complicated balance between his conflicting organic and synthetic selves. In fact, we don't see enough "story" in Murphy at all. First, he's a dad and a cop. Then, he's a RoboCop. But can he also be a RoboDad? With all of its ranting and raving about the question, the film doesn't seem to concerned with actually figuring out the answer.
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Despite having been ousted from the show's cast, Charlie Sheen is still really invested in the "good old days" of Two and a Half Men. The former star of the CBS sitcom has been charged with the task of choosing his 24 favorite episodes from his eight-year run with the program to comprise a marathon on the FX network on Thursday, June 28, leading up to the series premiere of Sheen's new comedy Anger Management, which debuts at 9 PM ET/PT.
Sheen opened up about his Two and a Half Men glory in a statement, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, wherein he expresses fondness for former colleagues, praising "Jon [Cryer]'s genius" and waxing poetic on "9-year-old Angus [Jones] riding his Razor up and down the camera aisle"... still, manages to input what feels like a jab at the quality of the show since the hiring of Ashton Kutcher as Two and a Half Men's central star: "Who cares how it ended; when it was good, it was great."
Below is the complete schedule of Sheen's hand-picked FX's Two and a Half Men marathon to run on Thursday, June 28, starting at 9 AM ET/PT. Did your favorite episodes make the cut? Sound off in the comments section and let us know which of the Harper brothers' adventures you would have chosen.
9:00 AM– “Pilot” – Charlie reluctantly allows Alan and Jake to live with him.
9:30 AM– “Go East on Sunset Until You Reach the Gates of Hell” – When Alan's attempt to provide Jake with a fun-filled father/son weekend backfires, Charlie tries to console his brother by taking him to a local bar and getting Alan totally inebriated.
10:00 AM– “Merry Thanksgiving” – When Charlie finds out that his favorite former girlfriend, Lisa, is getting married, he desperately tries to prove to her that he has become a better family man.
10:30 AM– “Camel Filters and Pheromones” – Charlie's cleaning woman brings her sexy and rebellious 16-year-old daughter Prudence to Charlie's house.
11:00 AM– “An Old Flame With a New Wick” – Charlie's old flame, Jill, comes for a visit, but had an operation and is now called "Bill."
11:30 AM– “No Sniffing, No Wowing” – Alan takes Charlie to meet with his sexy and determined divorce attorney, Laura after Judith expresses concern that Charlie is a bad influence on Jake.
12:00 PM– “Just Like Buffalo” – When Jake imitates one of Charlie's sexist remarks in front of Judith's support group, the women decide that Charlie's home is an unfit environment for the child.
12:30 PM– “Back Off, Mary Poppins” – Alan feels hurt when Charlie asks him to stay out of the house while Charlie's buddies come over.
1:00 PM– “Yes, Monsignor” – Charlie encounters Lisa, the woman he thought was "the one" until she informed him of her engagement another man.
1:30 PM– “Smell the Umbrella Stand” – On a boring, rainy weekend, Charlie convinces Alan to ride with Jake and him to Las Vegas.
2:00 PM– “Squab, Squab, Squab, Squab, Squab” – When Evelyn learns that Jake spent his entire spring vacation with his other grandparents, she pressures Alan into letting Jake stay with her for a night.
2:30 PM– “Sleep Tight, Puddin’ Pop” –Charlie finds himself in a compromising position after getting drunk and spending the evening with his stalker, Rose.
3:00 PM– “That Voodoo That I Do Do” – After Charlie's romantic overtures towards Mia an attractive ballet teacher are rejected, Charlie tries to prove to Alan that he can persuade Mia to go on a date with him.
3:30 PM– “Santa’s Village of the Damned” – When Alan dates a cooking instructor, Sandy, both he and Charlie gain weight.
4:00 PM– “Arguments for the Quickie” – When Charlie finds out that his ex-girlfriend, Mia is in town with her dance troupe and wants him to come to her performance, he opts not to go and tries to behave as if he were no longer attracted to her.
4:30 PM– “That Pistol-Packin’ Hermaphrodite” – With Charlie and Mia arranging their wedding, their families meet, and things immediately begin to fall apart.
5:00 PM– “Release the Dogs” – Unable to sleep, Alan takes Charlie's suggestion and goes for a jog on the beach.
5:30 PM– “Is There a Mrs. Waffles?” – Charlie finds success as a children's singing star, making Alan miserable.
6:00 PM– “David Copperfield Slipped Me a Roofie” – Convinced that Alan's family doesn't fully appreciate him, Melissa invites Alan to live with her and her mom.
6:30 PM– “Baseball Was Better With Steroids” –Charlie starts to question his relationship with Chelsea when he hears that Mia is back in town.
7:00 PM– “I Found Your Mustache” – Charlie and Chelsea have a post-breakup one-night stand.
7:30 PM– “Gumby With a Pokey” – While Alan and Jake go to Sacramento to pick up a grandfather clock, Charlie gets a prescription for medical marijuana to help him sleep and forget about Chelsea.
8:00 PM– “Hookers, Hookers, Hookers” – Lyndsey and Eldridge move into Charlie's house after Alan burns down their home.
8:30 PM– “Chocolate Diddlers or Mr. Puppy’s Dead” – When Charlie and Courtney break up, Charlie falls into a depression and goes to see his psychiatrist.
[Image Credit: CBS]
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