If you were lucky enough to be cognizant in the post-aughts greatness of the 2010s, you probably recall being inundated with promotion for the Divergent and Hunger Games movies in tandem. Both of these franchises bowed less than a decade ago, but it feels more like it’s been centuries, when we factor in that sweet nostalgia. These post-apocalyptic, young-adult novel adaptations were as sticky and delicious as the self-serve frozen yogurt we all mass-consumed at the time, as if they weren’t laced with toxic chemicals that will only be discovered by labs in 2078.
The blockbuster stars of those franchises, Shailene Woodley and Jennifer Lawrence, spent the earlier part of the decade awash in limelight. After racking up hundreds of millions of dollars for studios, Lawrence and Woodley had their next moves studied carefully. And after some successful—and fiercely unexpected—original projects, both actors seemed to feel the pressure of the world’s microscope pressing down on them.
Woodley and Lawrence have stepped back from big projects as of late, but they will both return this summer, with wacko new movies to boot. After having spent some time shaking off Big Hollywood, it seems as though JLaw and ShayWood are ready to have a little fun again.
We saw this first in the trailer for Lawrence’s upcoming sex comedy, No Hard Feelings, which will saunter bandage-dress-first into theaters June 23. Now, Woodley is joining her old peer Lawrence with the upcoming Robots, which is not a live-action remake of the 2005 animated movie. Rather, it’s a completely bonkers, slightly dystopian take on modern tech fatigue.
Woodley first appears in the Robots trailer in a way that’s coincidentally similar to Lawrence’s entrance in the first clips of No Hard Feelings, wearing a beachy, wavy curl meant to heighten her character’s broad but conventional sex appeal. Woodley plays Elaine, a carefree young woman, who meets Thomas (Jack Whitehall) at a skating rink. Elaine accidentally ropes herself into going on a date with Thomas, and—in this slightly futuristic world—sends her identical robot double in her place.
Yes, you read that right: her identical robot double. Robots is set in a world where humans inexplicably created robots with synthetic skin suits to do the jobs that, apparently, no humans wanted to do. However, having a robot double of a living person is completely illegal. (The trailer skates over how having a technological doppelgänger of yourself made would be possible, but you’ve got to save some things for the movie itself in this day and age, I suppose!)
Of course, there’s a twist. Thomas also has a robot double, who he sends on his date with Elaine to do all the lovey-dovey grunt work, getting her interested enough to sleep with the real him on a future night out. Big, bang, boom, the robot doubles fall in love with each other. They come out of hiding to ditch Thomas and Elaine and run away together, stealing their human counterparts’ lives. But having their robots running around freely doesn’t just concern Elaine and Charlie because they’re vulnerable in the eyes of the law. It also means that, if they can’t find and kill their robots, they’ll have to—shudder—get real jobs.
Robots looks absolutely absurd, in the sort of delightful, stoner-y way that we haven’t been blessed with since strange, mid-budget comedies like this one started to be sent off to die on streamers. But it also seems to know how preposterous it is, not leaning into its plot so much as cannonballing into it. And Woodley seems to be having the time of her life, unconcerned about what anyone may think of her taking a screwball indie comedy.
Robots may not be aiming for the big-budget, theatrical successes of No Hard Feelings, but it does continue the ushering of a new era for actors like Lawrence and Woodley, one where they clearly aren’t beholden to the whims of the masses. They will star in whatever films they want, whenever they want to, no matter how nutty they—or their terribly photoshopped posters—may be.
POSTER OF THE YEAR pic.twitter.com/ldg17EVhRp
— coleman spilde (@colemanjspilde) April 25, 2023
Gone are the days of expecting actresses to keep aiming higher, always seeking prestige at the expense of letting audiences have a good time. Doesn’t it feel good to laugh again?
Robots is in theaters and on-demand May 19.