Robots

I may have spoken too soon last week when I said that things were picking up. There was absolutley nothing opening this week. I’ll be glad when the summer movies start arriving next month.

So, faced with the choice of seeing an old movie or none at all, I went with Robots. It got reasonable reviews and did well at the box-office which means it will probably be nominated for Best Animated Feature, and even though it will undoubtedly be on DVD well before Oscar season, I figured I might as well see it now. Sitting in a theater full of kids, however, is not an appealing prospect, so I went to a dinner show, which was uncrowded. Still, at one point, I looked over and saw a toddler climbing a chair back. Her mother was holding her by the arms and whispering, “You have to get down.” Times like that make me long for a 50″ plasma TV and surround sound.

Anyway, on to the movie. Robots is a bildings roman story, in which a country raised boy comes to the city to find his destiny. In this case, the boy is Rodney Copperbottom, voiced by Ian McGregor. Rodney is inspired by Bigweld (Mel Brooks) a famous inventor. But when Rodney travels to Robot City to meet his idol, he discovers that Bigweld is missing and the company he founded has been taken over by commercially minded money grubbers. It is of course, an evil plot to eliminate all the poor robots who can’t afford expensive upgrades. It’s up to Rodney and his out-moded city friends, led by Fender (Robin Williams) to find Goodweld and save the day.

Not much of a plot there, I’m afraid, and in the end it sinks the film. The best part of the movie is it’s visual inventiveness. This mechanical world works on Rube Goldberg principles with fascinating and wacky ways of just getting around. Rodney’s first experience with public transportation is hilarious, even if it lasts about two bits too long.

In spite of the great look of the film, you can tell Robots is not a Pixar project. The lesson that Pixar is continually teaching us is that these things need to have great plots and deep characters to hold our interest.

Come to think of it, maybe that toddler had the right idea, after all.

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