Robots, spare parts and Robin WilliamsLately, it seems that Ewan McGregor is almost everywhere, in every movie released this year: as a clone-fighting Jedi master, a clone who realizes he’s just a spare part for a very rich sponsor and now as a robot with an extraordinary talent for fixing almost every spare part a robot needs.
But just as McGregor’s movie roles have been all over the lot, so is this animated feature from Blue Sky Studio. “Robots” is a long, loony trip on a high-speed roller coaster, particularly since it has Robin Williams, the century’s most hyperactive comedian and movie actor, as a sidekick.
Williams is the voice of a robot, Fender, that seems to have consumed an entire box of energy bars as well as steroids, spitting out uncontrollable jibberish.
The film has a great ensemble cast, including Mel Brooks, Greg Kinnear, Drew Carey and Halle Berry, but it fails to make the most of their outstanding talent.
The story is unfocused and the characters lack depth. After seeing “Robots,” one might feel like a person who has just gotten off a roller coaster without knowing what has happened to him.
Rodney Cooperbottom (McGregor), a small town robot, sets off to the big city to fulfill his dream as a young inventor, only to learn that his most admired robot, Bigweld (Brooks), the greatest robotic inventor, no longer runs Bigweld Industries, which seems to be the only company in town.
Ratchet (Kinnear) has been running the company in place of Bigweld, who mysteriously no longer appears in public. Along with his evil mother, Madame Gasket (Jim Broadbent), who runs a chop shop for outmoded robots, Ratchet plots a scheme to destroy all the spare parts that the average robot needs to function. Outmoded robots that can’t afford to buy slick updates are sent to the chop shop and melted down. Rodney gathers all his friends to try to stop the twisted scheme.
The movie, like the design of the characters, is complicated and filled with unnecessary visuals. Particularly, the mode of transport used by the robots seems more like a large contraption than a means of transportation, and is more likely to make a viewer nauseous than excited. The small “clips” of jokes don’t connect.
Like other animated films today, “Robots” contains a few parodies, including a Britney Spears dance move and Gene Kelly’s famous “Singin’ in the Rain,” which was rephrased as “Singing in Oil.”
Yet the parodies don’t produce guffaws, unlike the recently released “Madagascar,” which applies humor at the appropriate moments: Ben Stiller’s parodies of “Planet of the Apes” and “Cast Away” really brought down the house. The ending, when the characters do a parody of a James Brown gig, however, is very entertaining and shows what could be achieved in the movie.
“Robots” is full of fart jokes and slapstick. Kids will love it, but adults, many of whom have found the batch of animated films in recent years entertaining, may see less humor in the situation.
The movie is high-speed and action-packed, but it constantly falls apart like Fender, the robot whose arms, head and legs never stay attached.
Animation / English
by Lee Ho-jeong