Looking at the checklist to making a good animated film, the above-average and fun Robots has all the necessary parts: terrific animation, a plucky hero, big set pieces, big-named voices, excitement, laughter, morals, a heartstring-pulling ending, and an inspiring journey from zero to hero. But still, something feels lacking—as if the wiring holding it all together has a short circuit (robot pun intended).
While entertaining, Robots almost feels like a mechanical exercise (okay, I'll quit the puns) in how to make an entertaining family film instead of relying on innovative storytelling to create magic like CG powerhouses The Incredibles and Shrek 2 accomplished. The result is an enjoyable movie you laugh with, cheer on, and even tear up during—but once you leave the theater, not much of it sticks with you.
There's a lot to like about Robots. Set in a fantastically imaginative world populated only by robots, everything has a personality: bass drums, mailboxes, and even fire hydrants. The robots are pretty cool and unique. Some roll, some walk and some hop on springs. Some are chrome-covered and fancy. Others are made out of toasters or old car parts. But no matter what they are made of, the robots of this world are really just metal people with emotions and human experiences—including growing up, having dreams, and resigning to failure.
The movie centers on the idealistic Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), who is loved by his parents but grows up with nothing more than hand-me-down parts. Despite the embarrassment of not being top-of-the-line, Rodney has big dreams. He's especially inspired by inventor/TV celebrity Big Weld (Mel Brooks), whose slogan is: "If you are made of new parts or used parts, you can ...1
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