Brian and Charles (CREDIT: Focus Features)

Starring: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie, Nina Sosanya, Lynn Hunter, Lowri Izzard, Mari Izzard

Director: Jim Archer

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (PG-level, But Maybe a Little Dark for Young Kids)

Release Date: June 17, 2022 (Theaters)

Sometimes when I’m watching a movie, I like to ask myself, “Would I want to live in this world?” That’s certainly not a requirement for a movie to be good, as there have been plenty of fascinating dystopias or gripping recollections of trauma. But if I’m going to spend at least an hour and a half or so in some fictional land, then it usually helps if it’s pleasant. And “pleasant” is certainly one way to accurately describe Brian and Charles. You could also call it charming, even! A rural Welsh fellow (that’s Brian, played by David Earl) builds a robot out of a washing machine and other random household items (that would be Charles, voiced by Chris Hayward) who inexplicably comes to life one day, Frosty the Snowman-style. I mean, how could I possibly resist?

This is low-key sci-fi, which is to say: no scientific explanation is given about how Charles comes to life. (By the way, he comes complete with a last name – “Petrescu” – that I’m fairly certain is NOT also Brian’s last name.) I suppose, then, given the lack of thorough details regarding the generative process, we should maybe instead call it low-key fantasy. But that would imply the presence of magic or some other supernatural force, and it’s not clear that that is what’s going on either. Whether low-key sci-fi or low-key fantasy, you almost feel like this whole turn of events could really happen. And that’s certainly fine with me, because I’d kind of like my own Charles Petrescu!

Much of Brian and Charles is conflict-free and narrative-light, which generally works in its favor. I’m a sucker for robots or other fish-out-of-water types learning about the vagaries of modern society while being gently guided along by their best buds, after all. There is a bit of a dark turn in the final act, as Brian has to confront a bully, which is a bummer certainly, but at least it tracks logically, as he is a rather meek fellow. And the resolution is lovely, what with Charles there to offer both ingenuity and emotional support. Simply put, Brian and Charles offers plenty of charisma in a uniquely offbeat and modest manner.

Brian and Charles is Recommended If You Like: What We Do in the Shadows, Pinocchio, A surprise rap during the end credits

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Cabbages