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Film / Heartbeeps

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Introducing the humanoid robot versions of WALL•E and EVE

Directed by Allan Arkush and written by John Hill, Heartbeeps (1981), starring Andy Kaufman, Bernadette Peters and Randy Quaid with Jerry Garcia as the voice of Phil, and Jack Carter as the voice of Catskil, is about Val and Aqua, two household serving robots who start feeling emotions for one another. After falling in love, they decide to escape from their servitude and attempt to start a family of their own.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ax-Crazy: The Crimebuster. It blows up things when there is no need to.
  • Borscht Belt: Catskil's name and persona are a parody of Borscht Belt-style comedians, who originated in the Jewish-friendly resorts of the Catskill Mountains.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Believe it or not, Catskil's terrible jokes. Near the end of the film, he tears out Phil's battery, only to tear out his own and put it into Phil before running out of power and dying. It turns out his battery has 49% power left because "He was set for low-power jokes".
  • Cool Old Guy: Catskil is the robot equivalent of this.
  • Cowboy Cop: The Crimebuster. Precisely the reason why it was at the factory for repairs.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Val.
  • Expy: The Crimebuster looks way too much like a Dalek. It even has a suction cup arm.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the third act, Catskill gives Phil his battery, which contains far more power, even though he then runs out of power himself.
  • Large Ham: The Crimebuster between him constantly blowing things up and boastful personality, full stop. He even admits during his introduction that he has "a couple of loose wires."
  • Lounge Lizard: Catskil is a "club comedian robot". (His one-liners were supplied by Henny Youngman, who famously specialized in such jokes.)
  • More Dakka: The Crimebuster's arsenal includes several machine guns, cannons, and flares. He has no qualms against using them against robots or people.
  • Novelization: Written by the film's screenwriter, John Hill.
  • Robo Family
  • Sequel Hook: Val, Aqua, Phil and Catskil find happiness when they are junked and sent to the junkyard run by their new friends Susan and Calvin. However, the Crimebuster breaks out of the factory, vowing to catch the robots, as "a Crimebuster always gets his man".
  • Shout-Out: Susan and Calvin are an obvious reference to Isaac Asimov's recurring character Dr. Susan Calvin.
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: Just before Max and Charlie take the elevator down, they decide to hear Catskil's joke about the guy killed by the weasel:
    Max: What about the guy who was killed by the weasel?
    Catskil: He was sitting on a railroad track and the train came along and he didn't hear the weasel. [Rimshot]
    Max: Down. [a moment later] These things are worth more than you and I will make in 10 years.
    Charlie: "Didn't hear the weasel." [Another rim shot is heard]
  • Three Laws-Compliant: The Crimebuster ignores all but the third one. Not only does he blow stuff up for no reason, including a rabbit unfortunate enough to be in his way. But is also more than willing to harm humans at a fancy gathering in his attempts to catch Val and Aqua, and it's implied he, at minimum, incapacitated the people working on reprogramming him at the end.