Sunday, March 20, 2005
I know a lot of people are probably not going to see Robots because of the possibility of their expectations not being met by Pixar's rival studios (who could blame them after seeing the ginormous disappointment called "Shark's Tale"?). It could also be because this movie lacks the soft, furry, cute, cuddly and curvy characters other 3D animated movies have. But that shouldn't be the case to miss out on this great, great movie that, for a lack of better comparison, does rival that of Pixar's works. The story revolves around a young robot, Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor), whose dreams of growing up and working for the great robot inventor, Bigweld (voiced by Mel Brooks), was dashed to pieces when a shiny upstart robot, Ratchet (voiced by Greg Kinnear) took over as head of the company's board of directors. It turns out the kindly and fun loving Bigweld was slowly eased out to retirement a couple of years prior and the new boss has now issued a decree declaring that starting immediately their company would stop issuing spare parts and instead force everyone to upgrade or else face extinction in the smelting factory run by his domineering mother, Madame Gasket (voiced by Jim Broadbent). On his way out of being booted from the building, Rodney meets an assortment of oddball characters led by Fender (voiced by Robin Williams), his adopted younger sister, Piper (voiced by Amanda Bynes), Crank (voiced by Drew Carey), Aunt Fanny (voiced by Jennifer Coolidge), and a couple of others who represent the majority of the run down citizens of the city who are badly in need of repair (which Rodney does to the eternal gratitude of its citizens). He also got to go on his mission to talk with the formerly missing Bigweld with the help of the beautiful and curvaceous secretary of Ratchet, Cappy (voiced by Halle Berry), who took pity on him. But it seems that Bigweld isn't anymore interested in running his company and would rather spend all his time setting up a grand domino display which he would play over and over again. Disheartened with his discovery and moreso with the recent news from his mom (voiced by Dianne Wiest) that his dad (voiced by Stanley Tucci) is sick and already has one foot in the junkyard, he's more than ready to throw in the towel and go back home in defeat. Of course the movie doesn't end here and it's up to you to find out how the story ends with everyone happy (including the audience who have been laughing out loud for quite some time now).
Although the story of the idealistic small town hero going out to the big city to in a move to fulfill his dreams and conquer a corrupted system has been told a thousand times before (of which the movie, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington is the most notable) what sets this apart from the awe inspiring visuals and details is the abundance of humor both visual and spoken. Leading the pack, of course, is Robin Williams who went back to his old element of delivering one-liners along with other similarly gifted actors like Ms. Amanda Bynes, Drew Carey, Marshall Efron, Jay Leno, Al Roker, Paul Giamatti, and a host of others. You should also keep a tight watch on the voices of A.I. Judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul along with the great big voice himself, James Earl Jones, in some scenes. Me and my brother where laughing non-stop at the jokes, which thankfully weren't heavily based on present cultural references nor adult-themed ones. Contrary to what many others out there think the animation studio that produced this film, Blue Sky Studios, are not the same guys behind Shark Tale (that would be the third big player in the field who also did "Shrek" and "Shrek 2") but the same geniuses who did the hugely successful "Ice Age." And just in their first outing the geniuses behind it are following closely behind the footsteps of Pixar in terms of deftly juggling and mixing the elements of grand visuals, great humor, and big heart to come up with these outstanding movies (something that Michael Eisner and Disney Studios forgot in recent years). While the characters in this movie admittedly doesn't fall in the category of cuddly and cute (in the same way that circles and ovals win over squares and triangles in terms of design anytime) don't let that stop you from plunking your hard earned cash for a ticket because you won't be doing yourself a favor by missing this one out on the big screen. So do yourself and your friends a favor and personally experience for yourselves the grandeur of digital animation while having one heck of a good time, 'cause look out Pixar Studios you got yourselves a new rival!
* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.