Mother/Android will stream on Hulu Dec. 17.
In Mattson Tomlin’s post-apocalyptic film Mother/Android, AI expert Arthur (Raul Castillo) explains that the term robot comes from R.U.R, a 1920 play where artificial humans created to provide cheap labor rise up against their creators. His speech is meant to demonstrate the hubris behind humanity’s decision to take a cautionary tale and use it as inspiration, but it really just shows how old the tropes the film is drawing on are, driving home that Mother/Android has nothing new to contribute to the genre.
It follows Georgia (Chloe Grace Moretz), a college student who discovers she’s pregnant and isn’t sure if she wants to keep the baby or even stick with her boyfriend Sam (Algee Smith). But that decision becomes moot when all the android butlers that have become ubiquitous in this near future spontaneously go on a murderous rampage. Maybe it’s the fault of a bad software update? Arthur’s speech is the closest Tomlin, who wrote and directed the film, ever gets to an explanation.
Winter 2022 Movies: The 30 Most Anticipated Films
Cut to months in the future where the United States has largely fallen to the androids, the survivors hiding in remote military bases or cities protected by EMP fields. Georgia is just about due and Sam wants to get them all to Boston where they might be able to catch a boat to promised safety in Korea. Why would a boat be sailing around the world from Boston to Korea instead of gathering survivors on the West Coast? Who knows.
Many disaster and post-apocalyptic movies struggle with a conflict where the characters would be better off finding a safe place and staying there, but the action requires them to keep moving and encountering new threats. Mother/Android is a particularly egregious example. Georgia and Sam repeatedly find relative security and Sam keeps driving them forward to take stupid risks in the name of protecting his family, seemingly never learning from the suffering his quest causes along the way.
The couple is so naive and boring it’s almost impossible to care about their plight. Moretz was a standout in Kick-Ass, where she played the ferocious Hit Girl, but here she’s relegated to a doe-eyed plot vessel. Stress often causes pregnant women to deliver early, but Georgia is past due — a ticking time bomb whose activity is dictated by the needs of the plot rather than logic.
Not that there’s really much plot to go on. The film is full of genre cliches, like tough military dudes who reprimand Sam for wanting to flee rather than fight the androids. It’s a mercy that Tomlin cuts away instead of showing a brawl between Sam, who has no combat training and only the power of fatherly love, and a much bigger soldier.
There are a few decent twists, but they can’t redeem the plodding pace and saccharine scenes, like Georgia and Sam naming the things they miss the most about life before the android uprising or inexplicably stopping in their perilous crossing of the no man’s land surrounding Boston to sing and soak their feet.
In many ways, Mother/Android actually resembles another 2021 release, The Mitchells vs the Machines, which also used the robot apocalypse as a framing device for a family story. But, unlike Mother/Android, Mike Rianda’s animated comedy actually had likable characters and a coherent theme, using an AI rebelling against her creator as a metaphor for the strife between a teen and her father.
Aside from another awful monologue from Arthur about how the emotionless robots have come to understand love as the weakness in human programming, the disaster at the heart of Mother/Android barely matters. It’s just an excuse for some mediocre special effects showing metal under flesh or eyes that glow blue seemingly only when the androids are supposed to be scary.