“I don’t make pizza,” Dean Cain says alone in a warehouse next to the disembodied bust of a mannequin. He smiles and bites into an inexplicable apple. In a movie rife with lonely, delusional men, he might be the loneliest and most delusional. And by god I wish he made pizzas instead of sex-bots.
Director: Princeton Holt
Release Date: February 14, 2019 (Limited)
Dean Cain’s existence as Maxwell, the creator of 2050‘s central sex-bots, is like a reversal of The Shining. Maxwell approaches our hero, Michael (David Vaughn) at a bar and offers him a drink like Grady does Jack Torrance. In this case, however, Grady is the only living being talking to nothing more than shadows and ghosts. For all of his three scenes in 2050, Cain talks only to himself, obvious camera tricks used to try to staple him into the rest of the film’s world. The best is when he and Michael have dueling isolated monologues in chairs placed so that their bodies occupy perfect halves of the screen never touching. After they argue, Michael stands and storms from the room. All the while, Dean Cain sits rigidly still, eyes dead ahead, not so much as moving to shake Michael’s hand, as if he has no idea anyone else was there the whole time. Spooky.
What I’m saying is that Dean Cain isn’t very good here, but it’s not his fault when all he has are the walls to argue with. This is the last I’ll say about Dean Cain, since he has nothing else to do with the rest of the movie.
The majority of 2050 focuses on Michael, a video game developer who isn’t happy with his wife and is seduced by the world of sex-bots. They’re just smart RealDolls that can hold a conversation and play chess. The year is 2050, noted by the fact that sometimes you see a delivery drone flying in the background. Sex toys are officially reaching the point in which people can have full relationships and fall in love with them. Michael’s brother-in-law lost his girlfriend to a sex-bot and now lives with one of his own. He turns Michael onto Butterfly Chasers, a poorly named warehouse where a person can go to customize, rent, and buy a sex-bot of his or her very own. Michael goes there for “video game research,” sleeps with a sex-bot, and then immediately falls in love with her. Clearly, this is a dude who’s trying to make his marriage work.
I think 2050 wants to be Eyes Wide Shut but with robots, which is in itself a pretty interesting idea, but Holt has a sloppy, rambling script that falls somewhere between being a comedy that’s never funny and a drama that’s never emotional. Either way, I can’t figure out why I had to watch Michael complain about not getting white rice with his Chinese food (which gives free white rice with every dish) for five minutes. Was it a joke? Was this supposed to dig into the bickering within his and his wife’s deteriorating relationship? It fails either way.
It also fails to sell the sexuality of a man seduced by the lurid ecstasy of a sex robot world. We see attractive people sometimes naked, and Michael’s sex-bot asks if he’d rather talk or fuck and then shows him her cleavage, but I wouldn’t call it erotic. There’s no sense of his sweat, of his struggle between desire and morals, of any burgeoning passion for the robot or need to throw himself into some orgiastic ritual of debauchery that will free him from the binds of his wife and children. He just gets the hot android lady to promise him that she’s definitely fake, so that he doesn’t feel like he’s cheating when they do it, and that’s it.
Worth noting is that if you need to be convinced that you’re not cheating, then you’re definitely cheating.
Hanging somewhere far above where 2050‘s script can reach are themes struggling with the nature of love, the humanity of machines, whether people can change themselves from who they already are, and whether or not the only way to escape government control is through regular juice cleanses. Michael and his brother-in-law stand at a sink washing glasses of pureed vegetable when Michael asks, “Is it the same thing to love someone as it is to love the idea of someone?” To which his brother-in-law responds, “I don’t know.” End of discussion. Characters might ramble for interminable stretches, but their conclusions never scrape any further than this.
Yet, somehow these issues are only bricks forming the walls of the labyrinth of wrong decisions this movie’s made of. The Minotaur at its heart is the fact that 2050 doesn’t treat women of plastic-and-silicone or flesh-and-blood like they’re real human beings. For a movie that runs an hour-and-forty-five minutes long and uses that time to say absolutely nothing, “Bitches, right?” might be the most consistent theme it finds. I’ve seen plenty of lazy bro humor in my day, but this is just garbage. It isn’t about 2050 using the promise of boobs to sell itself, either. No, these problems dig deep as coffin nails. From a monologue about how women are crazy because they apparently all want a man who’s attractive, strong, gentle, and still able to beat up dudes in a bar to a radio interview in which a noted “philosopher” states that women worrying about sex-bots further enforcing damaging body images are dumb and need to shut up and look at the real issues to scenes showing that Michael fucking a robo-woman on the side makes him a better husband, it stereotypes and flattens women at every chance it gets.
This isn’t even to mention the ending, which I’m going to spoil here. Don’t worry, the movie’s already rotten. Michael now separated from his wife and complaining to his sex-bot that he hasn’t seen his kids in three days (we haven’t seen his kids for the entire movie), ducks into a bar to drink away his self-inflicted woes and meets a woman with a sex-bot companion who tells him that--huge shock--women want the same thing as men and some are open-minded about it. Cue him driving home with the sex robot in his back seat. He then tells his wife that he’s ready to fight for their marriage, as long as he’s allowed to keep his autonomous fuck buddy. “Until death do us part,” he reminds her, because he’s a prick. “Well, I’m not dead.” After he’s forced to admit that they have nothing in common, he feebly declares, “We have love.” She apparently cheated on him in the past which is explained in one throwaway justification scene toward the end. It sounds like a relationship that shouldn’t exist, one that should just end. Divorce is okay. Sex-bots—even if Michael swears that he’s secure enough about himself (nothing in this movie says that he is) for his wife to have her own without him getting jealous--aren’t going to fix a broken marriage. The movie ends here, so we don’t get to see them high-five while banging their bots.
2050 is a horrible, sloppy waste of time that’s not erotic or thoughtful and fails to find the humanity in women whether they were built for sex or not. I used to think the least romantic romance ever made was 1980’s Somewhere in Time, also starring Dean Cain, but I’ve been proven very wrong. At least he can escape the shame of this one by throwing up his hands and saying, “Look, I was never even in the same room as any of these people,” and no one could call him a liar.