‘Round these parts, we’re reluctant to admit that not all things are as cool as Robot Combat League, and that Robot Combat League wasn’t even as cool as it should have been. But that doesn’t mean that robot challenges aren’t some of the more interesting ways to combine intelligence with creativity. Recently, comedian and TV star George Lopez signed a deal with Latin production company Pantelion Films, and the first project they’re teaming up on is La Vida Robot, a true story about underdogs in a high school robotics competition. The film just signed its first high school age actor in Carlos Pena, one of the stars of Nickelodeon’s musical comedy Big Time Rush. I know all your readers out there are positively obsessed with that show, am I right? No?
Sean McNamara, whose features include 2011’s preachy Soul Surfer and this year’s Space Warriors, will direct the film. He’s got a long career filming children’s television shows like Lab Rats and, going way back, The Secret World of Alex Mack. He’ll work from a script by newcomer Elissa Matsueda.
The film is based on a Wired article written by Joshua Davis, which you can read here if you’re so inclined. It tells the story of a group of undocumented Mexican-American teenagers who formed a robotics club and faced off against an M.I.T. team in the National Underwater Robotics Competition. It sounds like a cookie cutter plot, sure, but at least there are underwater robots involved. Not a lot of non-Pacific Rim films out there with that subject matter in mind.
Pena is set to play Oscar Vasquez, the leader of the group who gets some bad news when he finds out he can’t enter the military because of his undocumented status. There was nothing in the story about what role Lopez will play, but we can probably assume he’ll either play someone’s helpful father or possibly a mentoring teacher who helps shape an entire generation of young minds.
It’ll be the second feature role for Pena, who also had a bit part in Elgin James’ 2011 drama Little Birds. He also broke out into directing this year, helming one episode of Big Time Rush as well as an episode of the Disney XD series Pair of Kings. Pantelion Films struck it big with the recent comedy Instructions Not Included, which is the biggest Spanish-language film of all times in the North American box office, with over $41 million grossed so far. La Vida Robot will be in English, so there won’t be any competition there. The film is set to begin production in New Mexico in the middle of this month.
Not familiar with Pena’s work on Big Time Rush? I present the video below without comment.