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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Who's On First?

Cerebrum on IMDb

Plot Overview

man w/an idea

and barnBarnyard experimenter Dr. Kirk Davis (James Russo) was a man driven to work on his inventions to the neglect of his growing son Tom (Jesse Willhite.) He regularly missed his birth­days. A chip off the old block, Tom (Christian James) regularly misses work and “can't hold onto a job more than a month.” At age 25 financial difficulty forces him to return to his father's ranch to participate in a paid experiment. His dad—big on education—is tutoring Chloe (Alexxis Lemire) the local bartender in math. Tom went to high school with her (“We did more than that.”)

bound bookcomputer disksTom gets connected to a Software Capture and Memory Mapper (SCAMMER) that loads his neural network data onto a thumb size disc called a noggin, backing up his brain. It can be restored using a large wrist­watch-looking device called a Memory Interpreter (MINT.) They're trying to increase the hold time after which the mind reverts to its original state.

Kirk is doing it for science (“Memory loss is a terrible thing”) but his assistant Bruno (Andy Pisharody) wants to see it turn a profit. He is full of him­self like Mr. Williams in George Barton's story: The Bolted Door.

“Mr. Williams,” he said, “I believe that you were associated with Hugh Helverson in most of his inventive work?”

I was,” came the quiet reply.

“I'm told that you were especially interested in … his greatest work.”

“No one knows how intensely interested I was in that particular bit of work.”

“You helped him with it—a little bit?”

“I helped him with it a great deal,” came the passionate retort, with emphasis on the last two words. (58–9)

beakersTrouble ensues. Kirk is discovered lying dead on the floor and they can't tell the cops for fear of exposing their lab. Non-chemical memory restoration is against the law, you see. They bury him in the desert. Tom is determined to continue his father's work by uploading his dad's mind into him­self as a surrogate, then sending results back on the laptop before he reverts. Mean­while, Bruno has found an out­let for their research through an unscrupulous former assistant, Reinhard “Rocky” Kindler who's got a buyer. Working at cross-purposes they make them­selves surrogates of: Kirk, one another, and clue­less colored cop Monty (Christopher Carrington,) playing a sub rosa shell game for keeps.


The song that rolls with the credits contains the words: “There's nothing new under the sun.” That line is derived from, (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10) “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.” That's a curious note to end on because Kirk's research, we are told, is ahead of MIT, Cal Tech, and Stanford. So how can it be redundant?

a swing and a misswaste basketWell, it has to do with memory transfer, right? Chloe tells Tom he's got his father's smile. He doesn't want to have any­thing to do with his dad but it's in his blood, he can­not discard him like an old boot. Hereditary muscle memory, what­ever. Further­more, if Kirk had spent more time with his kid, he would have taught him the Kirk slider. There is family stuff passed down through the generations. There's also the body of man's accumulated knowledge formally taught as in Kirk tutoring Chloe in algebra.

hobo signWhen Tom discovers he has memories belonging to his dad (“The more you upload, the more permanent that memory becomes”), and that he can reproduce one of Chloe's doodles he's never seen before, memory-Kirk explains causal residual uploaded memory (CRUM) whereby bits of the source brain bleed into the host's permanent record. This has an analogy to the way cultural practices get passed along through proximity to each other. It's normal and safe when it occurs in moderation, but over­done it can compromise a culture's cohesion. Tom's mom wanted him to be an “astronaut, doctor, musician all at the same time.” I got my degree in engineering, which was hard enough, and I took one course in math theory as an elective, which wasn't needed for any practical use but it didn't hurt me any either.

EinsteinIn our movie Kirk and family are Gringo Texans, but Bruno refers to him as a “cowboy Einstein.” Einstein was Jewish. Reference is made to an English fable (“The goose that laid the golden egg”), the Jewish prophets (“Zebra can't change its stripes”), and the Jewish Talmud (“an eye for an eye.”) Kirk's young wife developed a mental handicap. Chloe is Latina, dressed to the nines per her protective culture that allows women confidence in presenting an appealing appearance. Bruno is Asia-Indian. A potential buyer is an Arab sheik. Reinhard is German. And the cop is black. It's as in George Barton's story, The Burnt Match Stick:

Two thousand men and women are working there. And the curious part is that they are natives of nearly every nation under the sun. They call the United States a melting pot—

It was a cosmopolitan crowd. There were Poles, Italians, Austrians, Hungarians, Germans, and a few Americans. (147, 158)

We pick up on a few Spanish expressions from Chloe, easily under­stood: “Keep an open mind, amigo.” “Hasta luego, cowboy.” “Adios.” But when Reinhard converses with his surrogate in German, we need the English sub­titles to under­stand them. A little bit of cross-culture osmosis spices up the language, but whole­sale mixing would leave us out in the cold.

Production Values

"Cerebrum" (2021) was directed by Arvi who co-wrote it with Gary D. Houk. It is an independent film. It stars Christian James, Alexxis Lemire and James Russo. Russo playing the dad anchors the film. Pisharody's over-zealous Bruno adds a light note. James's grudge-holding Tom ratchets up the drama. They all did well.

sunflowersboy and girlIt's certified 12 in the United Kingdom. There is no sex or nudity in it but some profanity. The movie is well-crafted and balanced, and the acting works fine. The dismal settings and the inferior acoustics, however, made viewing fatiguing and the movie seem second rate. It does end nicely, though, at a coffee house on a date. Runtime is 2 hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

The sci-fi was straightforward and there was an inherent message touting family values and disparaging greed. The plot was easy to follow but the possessions tricky to keep track of. It was good for an independent film and should prove satisfactory for general viewing.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 12+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software. Memory.

Barton, George. The Strange Adventures of Bromley Barnes. Copyright, 1918, by The Page Company. Boston, Mass.: The Page Co., 1918. Print.