a bearded white man with glasses sits next to his boxy puppet friend
Courtesy Focus Features

Brian is a solitary eccentric living on a shambling property in rural Wales. He passes his days in his workshop cobbling together inventions that seldom work and no one asks for or needs, such as a flying grandfather clock that never leaves the ground but does burst into flames. Undaunted, Brian decides to up the ante by building a robot, which, miraculously, comes to life. Charles has a mannequin head, rubber gloves for hands, and a washing-machine torso. But the rest of him is quite obviously human. His hodgepodge construction neatly describes the disjointedness of the film he’s in.

A crazy quilt of Pinocchio, Wallace and Gromit, Rain Man, and a dozen other movies and books, this is a film that can’t settle on a tone or approach. Mockumentary one minute, fairy tale the next, it expects the viewer to embrace characters who are clearly troubled and to accept their quotidian challenges as endearing. The filmmakers confuse saccharine sentimentality for actual emotion by resting their elbows on the scale any time Brian (David Earl) or Charles (Chris Hayward) are to be sympathized with in their travails. No matter how badly they’re picked on or maligned, their troubles never feel believable because the stakes are so low and their eventual triumph is never in less than zero doubt. By the time Brian packs Charles off on a train to see the world, I’d long since hightailed it out of town. PG, 90 min.

Wide release in theaters