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Or, as I think of it, "The Return of Robby the Robot" (from Forbidden Planet, no less). I reacquainted myself with this one about a year ago.
This strange film features kid actor Richard Ayer as the title character; he appeared in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad next, as the genie. He's a typical annoying kid here, whose father happens to have developed the fifties version of a super computer, kept underground in one of those secret government installations. I was amazed as the plot developed into an early version of Colossus-the Forbin Project (1970). I last saw The Invisible Boy at least 25 years ago and remembered none of it - I think many of the underlining themes and strange plot developments were lost on me back then, including the concepts involving evolving artificial intelligence - pretty wild speculation for a supposed trivial little sci-fi comedy film of the fifties.
The tone to this film shifts drastically throughout - it's very odd. On the one hand, there's the absurd comedy, a farce about a distracted scientist dad and flustered mom, especially after the kid does become invisible. On the other, there's an intense sci-fi thriller about a sentient machine planning to take us over - Robby figures into this as one of the computer's tools, which may or may not work in humanity's favor. I could barely believe some of the threats which materialized, such as gouging out the kid's eyes to make a point; it makes sense in that this is a power-mad yet unfeeling machine, but it's as if someone took one of those Disney comedy-fantasies of the fifties and plugged in scenes from The Manchurian Candidate arbitrarily. What a weird mix! BoG's Score: 6 out of 10
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