Robots (2005)

Rating: ***
Release Date: 3/11/05
Cast:Ewan McGregor, Robin Williams, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks, Halle Berry

"Robots" is a cute and enjoyable film, in spite of its uninspired assembly line plot. Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor) is an ambitious young robot with a talent for inventions. His life-long dream is to meet the greatest inventor in Robot City, Mr. Bigweld (Mel Brooks), and become a famous inventor himself. After a heartfelt good-bye and some sage words of encouragement from his dad, Rodney heads off to the big city to chase his dream. Unfortunately, Bigweld's company been overthrown by the shrewd and villainous Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), and Rodney ends up in the gutter with a bunch of misfit outmodes including the screwball Fender (over-the-top Robin Williams). Ratchet has plans to clean up the city by sending all of the outmodes to the scrap pile, so it's up to Rodney to incite a robot revolution. The scrappy outcasts defeat their shiny oppressors, and the whole thing ends on a funky musical number.

First and foremost, the film is lovely to behold and the amount of detail is amazing. It's difficult to find the characters cuddly or personable, and their entire charm lies in physical comedy and dramatic voice acting. The voice cast is an impressive collection of stars, along with some unexpected people like Terry Bradshaw and Al Roker. Robin Williams crosses way over the line between funny and utterly obnoxious with his Fender character, making his performance in "Aladdin" (1993) look somber in comparison. The plot is a by-the-numbers "follow your dream" story, playing out like a combination of "A Bug's Life" (1998) and "Shrek" (2001). As one who never had the courage to do it myself, the theme is both inspiring and painful. In addition to the clichéd plot, the film also utilizes outdated and sexist gender roles, which seems inappropriate for the material. The humor comes fast and furious and is all over the board, from juvenile butt humor to more sophisticated in-jokes and adult humor. Call me immature, but as utterly ridiculous as it is to have fart humor in a robot film, I couldn't help but burst out laughing during the fart scenes. Overall, "Robots" is a solid entertainment effort from Blue Sky Studios, and we'll no doubt see more from them in the future.