directed by Chris Wedge, Carlos Saldanha
(20th Century Fox, 2005)
I can't come up with one thing not to like about this movie. The animation is superb, with many a subtle whatsit worked into the background, the star-studded voiceovers are excellent (and just because Robin Williams has a relatively small part here doesn't mean he's not funny), there's wild fun and abundant laughs to be found everywhere, and there's an uplifting story with all kinds of morals at the heart of everything. Robots is a great family film that proves as entertaining to adults as it is to children.
This is the story of Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), an idealistic young inventor from a humble robot family who dreams of going to Robot City, meeting famed inventor/robotitarian Bigweld and helping to make the lives of all robots just a little bit easier. He doesn't mind the fact that his parents can only give him hand-me-down parts, and he's not ashamed that his father is only a dishwasher in a little restaurant. When he comes of age, though, he faces the moment when he must decide whether to pursue his dream or adopt a "never try, never fail" outlook on life. He goes to Robot City full of vim and verve -- but things aren't the way they're supposed to be there. He can't even get in the gate, and it turns out that some schmuck named Ratchet (Greg Kinnear) is now running the company in the place of a conspicuously absent Bigweld (Mel Brooks).
Ratchet, in cahoots with his horrible chop shop bot mom, declares war on outmoded bots. With no parts available for repairs, the older bots will have no choice but to purchase the company's expensive upgrades or fall prey to the sweeper and chop shop oblivion.
Rodney makes some interesting friends in the big city, including a run-down crackup named Fender (Williams), the aptly named Aunt Fanny (Jennifer Coolidge) and even a Bigweld corporate exec named Cappy (Halle Berry). He sets himself in opposition to Ratchet when he begins repairing all of the outmoded robots, but he knows he can't stop Ratchet's terrible plans unless he can find Bigweld himself. It's your classic "do-gooder underdog takes on the man" kind of film, and it works really well as such.
You can shine no matter what you're made of; that's the message you take away with you from the film. It doesn't matter where you come from, what you look like or what you do -- you're just as important as anyone else. With that kind of positive message incorporated into a zany, wonderfully crafted, very funny film (with more celebrity voices than you can shake a spare robotic arm at), I have to repeat myself and say there's absolutely nothing not to like here.
by Daniel Jolley