C.H.O.M.P.S., the robot dog of 1979

They say every generation gets the robot dog movie it deserves. The ’70s got the Valerie Bertinelli-starring C.H.O.M.P.S., and now we get one featuring the voice of Stuart Little. Deadline reports that Michael J. Fox has signed on to voice the title character in A.R.C.H.I.E., a talking-robot-dog movie that will likely push many children into the exciting world of mechanical canine development.

The film is being written and directed by Robin Dunne, an actor you might know from Sanctuary or Defiance, but definitely don’t know from writing or directing. Still, they say “write what you know,” so presumably Dunne will draw on his real-life experience of building a super-powered robotic talking dog that sounds like Michael J. Fox. The movie tells the story of a world-renowned roboticist (just like in real life!) who “creates a dog to help those in need.” Despite resembling a normal dog, the robot can “talk and run at blinding speed, has super strength and x-ray vision,” which prompts the question of just what this roboticist thinks people in need are in need of, exactly. “I’m blind, and it makes it very hard for me to rob banks,” the roboticist probably imagines some poor wanna-be criminal saying to themselves. “Is there no one who can help me?”

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Regardless, upon learning her program is being shut down by the military, the roboticist (played by Hannibal’s Katharine Isabelle, which already means we are 100 percent going to see this movie) sets the dog loose, and it escapes to “the small town of Deanewood where Isabel Sullivan has just moved to live with her uncle Paul (Dunne), the town’s mayor and owner of Lord of Fries, Deanewood’s best burger joint.” Good to know the name of the burger joint, too, because that’s the kind of detail that can make or break a talking robot dog movie. Where is this leading?

Feeling very alone, Isabel struggles to find friends until she meets Archie. As Isabel and Archie’s paths connect, they find a bond and become fast friends while helping out uncle Paul and his race to retain his mayoral supremacy.

Talking about burying the lede. This robot dog is going to play a key role in small-town political maneuvering! We envision something along the lines of House Of Cards, only with Kevin Spacey replaced by a robot dog. Honestly, just insert the words “robot dog” in any sentence, and you’ve got a surefire high-concept pitch.

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