Director: Herman Hoffman
Writer: Cyril Hume
Cast: Richard Eyer, Philip Abbott, Diane Brewster, Harold J. Stone, Robert H. Harris, Dennis McCarthy, Alexander Lockwood, John O’Malley, and Robby the Robot
Composer: Les Baxter
Release Date: 10/1957
MPAA Rating: G
With the help of a supercomputer, scientist Tom Merrinoe (Philip Abbott) succeeds in increasing the mental abilities of his son Timmie (Richard Eyer). Complications arise, however, when Timmie reactivates Robby the Robot—now controlled by the supercomputer.
The Invisible Boy is an underwhelming “sequel” to Forbidden Planet. Specifically, this production deserves criticism for its bizarre humor, tonal inconsistencies, and lack of narrative focus.
Highlighting the adventures of a little boy lost in his imagination, this film will appeal to viewers who possess a childlike spirit. Especially worth noting is Timmie’s friendship with Robby the Robot—likely a dream shared by every science fiction fan born in the 1950s.
Upon boosting his intelligence, restoring Robby the Robot, and turning himself invisible, Timmie is met with nonchalance from both of his parents—a puzzling reaction that, even if intended to be amusing, seems highly out-of-character for Timmie’s father, who, as a brilliant man of science, should instead express amazement over the accomplishments of his son.
Also problematic is that Timmie exhibits a number of bratty, though not insufferable, behaviors after becoming invisible. In one scene, for example, Timmie plays a variety of obnoxious pranks on the colleagues of his father, thereby weakening his role as a sympathetic child protagonist.
Using Robby the Robot for assistance, the supercomputer in The Invisible Boy attempts to gain control of the entire world—a fascinating science fiction premise, and one that Colossus: The Forbin Project would later explore in greater detail.
Failing to blend sci-fi tropes with comedic undertones, The Invisible Boy may appeal to only the most diehard enthusiasts of Robby the Robot. Particularly distracting is the film’s utter absence of character consistency and narrative cohesion—much in contrast to Forbidden Planet, a thoughtful and internally consistent pulp science fiction offering.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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