Robot Buddies Reprogrammed is a 2018 American stop-motion/CGI animated romantic dramedy television film based on The CC (Cartoon Comedy) 2016 stop-motion animated comedy series Robot Buddies created by Dipper. It premiered on June 1, 2018, on the aforementioned channel to a live viewership of 4.8 million viewers. It serves as a sequel to the original series, detailing the character Darthy's (Phil LaMarr) romantic pursuits for a fellow robot colleague, Jemma (Kari Wahlgren) while attending the St. Saint School he began attending following the events of the original series' episode, "Darthy Makes a Decision". After realizing that she is stuck in an emotionally and physically tormenting relationship with her current boyfriend Grimy (Yuri Lowenthal), he begins assembling the "Robot Buddies" once more with Primitivus (Josh Keaton) and Skelly (Greg Cipes), so they can assist Jemma in breaking up the abusive relationship. The film is accompanied with a soundtrack comprising of licensed R&B/(electro-)pop songs. Upon release, the film was met with positive reviews, most of them basing it on the film's nuanced and serious portrayal of abusive relationships.
A flashback of the events after the original series' episode "Darthy Makes a Decision" shows Darthy hugging his former Robot Buddies Primitivus and Skelly, before declaring himself simply a "Robot", as he will attend St. Saint School in order to become a more better robot and won't be part of the Robot Buddies trio anymore. His two friends (or Buddies) turn down his statement by saying he'll always be a Robot Buddy "in their wiring". Darthy admits that will be the case and promptly leaves thereafter. Molly soon comes out of her hiding place and admits she was stalking them during their entire emotional monologue so she could ogle Primitivus, whom she still has feelings for. Primitivus and Skelly could care less about her feelings and comically manage to kick her out after throwing out a pair of Primitivus' spare mechanical parts into the outdoors.
While on a train heading to St. Saint School, a fellow robot, Jemma, tries striking up a conversation with a visibly tired Darthy to no avail. However, a thunderstorm begins brewing up, which begins frightening Darthy. Jemma, however, begins comforting him, and he manages to compose himself to excuse for his fear of lightning. She accepts his apology and looks forward to attending St. Saint School for a "change of heart". Darthy admits he too will attend the same college, and they converse until the train arrives at its destination.
Darthy eventually moves into his college dorm, where he meets his roommate Grimy, a robotic version of the Grim Reaper, who has a part-time job "banishing dead souls to their eternal island", and they hit it off, having a friendly argument over who has a darker coat of paint. It is eventually unearthed that Grimy is Jemma's boyfriend, and although Darthy is surprised and even a bit let down, he is complacent with their relationship and even leaves the dorm during their "alone time". On one particular night, he leaves to sit down in a pond next to a bustling restaurant, and witnesses couples eating, talking, and making out. This causes an unexplained sense of melancholy, and he leaves the pond in tears. He re-enters his dorm and finds Grimy absent, with only Jemma sitting in his bed, crying to herself. Darthy tries to comfort her and locate the source of her distress, and she reveals that Grimy is abusive in their relationship and that their "alone time" is either spent arguing and throwing things at each other, or Jemma being forced to watch Grimy "fall down". In their most recent "alone time", Grimy did his part in arguing before leaving to buy some "relief". Darthy feels for her and wants to make it up to her by suggesting the both of them go to the casual dining restaurant he was admiring. Grimy comes back and, seeing Darthy, calmly tells Jemma to leave as he wants to catch up on sleep. Before Jemma can leave, she subtly nods her head at Darthy's direction, accepting his proposal.
Darthy and Jemma eventually go to the restaurant for their date while Grimy goes to his part-time job and have a blast, enjoying each other's company. Afterward, they begin dancing on the restaurant's dance floor, then leave to stand near the pond and look at the night sky. Jemma appreciates Darthy's efforts at taking her out on a date, something Grimy had never bothered to do the entire time they were dating. Darthy suggests that she break-up with him and find a "worthy roboy", but Jemma spills out that she'll refuse the offer unless it's Darthy himself, flattering him in the process. He too confesses his hidden feelings for her, and they stare lovingly at each other.
After their first date, Darthy and Jemma begin going out on secret dates on the days Grimy works part-time to avoid potential trouble with him. Unfortunately, Grimy finds them in the middle of going out and demands to know where they're going. Darthy speaks up and says they're going for a walk, but Grimy doesn't buy it and tells Jemma to be with him instead. She meekly apologizes and Darthy's ordered to go on the walk by himself for "alone time". He hears Grimy saying he loves Jemma before ranting about how much he needs her and that they're meant to be together. He then bans her from ever going out with Darthy, and Darthy eventually comes back to sleep without wishing Grimy a goodnight.
Jemma is not deterred by Grimy's wishes to devoid from seeing Darthy, as she and Darthy sneak off to more dates, one of them which is commemorated due to the first kiss they share. One time, Darthy insists that Jemma leave Grimy, but she's afraid to do so as she feels it's her fault that Grimy is abusive because he's had a troubled childhood. Darthy decides to leave the topic behind but secretly concocts a plan to break up Jemma and Grimy with the help of the other Robot Buddies, Primitivus and Skelly. So he calls them up and tells them of his girlfriend who is still in a relationship, albeit an abusive one, and needs both of their help to break the relationship off. They both respond back with their famous catchphrase, "That's what Buddies are for".
Darthy reveals his plans to Jemma, but she warns him that it's not a good idea since Grimy could get mad, so when the other Robot Buddies call up Darthy and tell him they've arrived at Roboton (St. Saint's hometown), he tells them to meet them up at a cafe called Techoffee's so they can discuss just how to end the abusive relationship. During their discussion at the cafe, Grimy walks by and sees Darthy with Jemma again, immediately getting his anger fueled. He starts demanding at Jemma as to why she's seeing Darthy despite his objections, throwing things at her, and verbally abusing her with names such as "piece of scrap". Soon, he ups the ante and throws a table at Jemma, knocking her out. Darthy begins crying and hurries over to her, but is knocked out as well with a mug.
In the hospital, Darthy realizes that he only suffered minor injuries to his head, but that Jemma was injured badly and will require a "body replacement". At the request of the doctor, Darthy sacrifices his own torso for her. A month goes by with both of their hospitalizations, but they get out of the hospital in good condition, realizing that they haven't heard of Grimy's whereabouts. The other Robot Buddies relate to them the story of how Grimy was charged for assault and battery and will remain in prison for 10 years since he was found with a wire cutter at the scene. They also provide Jemma with the number for a Women's Center, in which she'll be offered shelter and treatment for her abuse, comically revealing that it was easier than they thought to break-up the relationship. She takes the request at the behest of Darthy, and begins dialing the number as the Robot Buddies watch her intently.
In a post-credits scene, Jemma comes back to visit Darthy in his now-solitary dorm, where he reveals he's packing up since he'd already graduated with a degree in Good-Hearted. Jemma agrees it was the right degree for him, and they begin laughing.
Main article: Robot Buddies § Characters
- Darthy (Phil LaMarr) - A robotic parody of Darth Vader from the Star Wars franchise, he leaves the Robot Buddies trio at the end of the show's episode "Darthy Makes a Decision" to attend St. Saint School, where he meets Jemma and falls deeply in love with her. He's Jemma's love interest and eventual boyfriend. Grimy's roommate.
- Jemma (Kari Wahlgren) - A pink-colored robot who resembles Jem from Jem and the Holograms. She is stuck in an abusive relationship with Grimy, but cannot break up with him due to guilt. She's Darthy's love interest and eventual girlfriend.
- Grimy (Yuri Lowenthal) - A cloaked robot whose face is unshown, he's Darthy's roommate at St. Saint School. He holds a steady, part-time job as a "banisher of dead souls" who he leads to an "eternal island. He's Jemma's boyfriend, who he's shown to be abusive towards.
- Primitivus (Josh Keaton) - A robotic parody of Optimus Prime from the Transformers franchise, a Robot Buddy, and Molly's love interest.
- Skelly (Greg Cipes) - A robotic skeleton who's the youngest Robot Buddy.
- Molly (Liliana Mumy) - A gigantic female dog who harbors feelings for Primitivus.
Nathan Fillion has a cameo as an unnamed robot waiter in the casual dining restaurant in which Darthy and Jemma eat out at during their first date, while Hugh Laurie provided the voice of the robotic doctor who attends to Darthy during his hospitalization from the big fight he had with Grimy, referencing his role as Dr. Gregory House from House.
The film was part of The CC (Cartoon Comedy)'s efforts to revive its old properties through an additional season or television film means. It first went into secret production on October 2017, and security had to be hired during filming so as to stress secrecy and any chances of the film's existence confirmed before its official announcement by the channel.
Although the film was first announced when Phil LaMarr, who voiced Darthy, said he would play a big role in the TV film, it was not promoted until Cartoon Brew's Amid Amidi did an interview with LaMarr, in which he said the film would be about Darthy during his time attending St. Saint School and finding himself falling in love with a fellow robot colleague, who was set to be voiced by Kari Wahlgren. Afterwards, The CC (Cartoon Comedy) started airing 8 different TV spots for the film starting on May 8, 2018, a month before the film premiered, which utilized some licensed songs that were featured in the soundtrack, with the exception of "Don't" by Bryson Tiller, which was not played in the final product at all due to its inappropriate lyrical content. The channel also aired all 26 episodes of the original Robot Buddies series back-to-back, and the pilot, on the same day.
The soundtrack was one of the most critically praised parts of the film for fitting with the film's romantic yet somber tone. It is comprised of 9 licensed R&B, electropop, house, and/or pop songs, along with some original songs written by Samuel England.
|1||"Robot Buddies Theme Song"||Backstreet Boys||1:33|
|2||"Electric"||Alina Baraz (ft. Khalid)||4:05|
|3||"Circuits"||Calvin Harris (ft. Khalid)||3:17|
|4||"Something About You"||Majid Jordan||3:42|
|5||"Omen"||Disclosure (ft. Sam Smith)||3:16|
|6||"Promesses"||Tchami (ft. Kaleem Taylor)||4:46|
|7||"Risky"||Lorde (ft. SZA)||4:01|
|8||"Endings"||Sam Smith (ft. Samuel England)||3:38|
|9||"Last But Not Least"||Samuel England||1:45|
The film has gotten positive reception for its mature and detailed portrayal of an abusive relationship for a kids' film. It garnered the attention of numerous media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and The Rolling Stones, who were surprised that a children's film could depict an abusive relationship without "toning down what is realistic and, at the same time, dramatizing it to the maximum". The soundtrack was also praised for fitting with the film's romantic yet somber "shades". On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 84% rating based on 29 reviews.
Home media release
Robot Buddies Reprogrammed released on DVD June 26, 2018, and includes 1 disc containing the film, interviews with Poppy Livingston and the rest of the crew, animatics of the film, concept art, and a mini book containing art of the characters.