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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look: 19.19%
Just Average54.55%
Pretty Crappy: 16.16%
Sucks: 1.01%

8 reviews, 51 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"To quote a funnier robot, 'This movie can bite my shiny metal ass!'"
2 stars

“Robots” clearly wants to be positioned as the new “Toy Story”–a fantastical adventure in which inanimate objects are brought to thrilling life with dazzling CGI animation, sly humor and entertaining voice work from actors cast more for what they can bring to the role than their marquee value. Instead, it comes off more like this year’s version of “Shark Tale”–a heartless, humorless knock-off filled with drab visuals, the kind of tired puns and “hip” cultural references that would have been rejected on “The Flintstones” and a cast that seems to have been recruited more for their demographics than for their vocal qualities. Watching it is like watching an especially elaborate DVD menu for 75 minutes; it moves quickly and makes a lot of noise but there is so little of actual interest going on that even the most indulgent of viewers will grow weary long before the end of its mercifully brief running time.

The slim plot concerns the adventures of Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), an ambitious young robot from the wrong side of town who leaves his poor-but-honest folks (Dad is a dishwasher–literally) to seek his fortune in the vast metropolis of Robot City. His dream is to work for Mr. Bigweld (Mel Brooks), the venerable head of a vast monopoly that creates products and spare parts to better the lives of all robots. (In theory, this would appear to make him God, but it is probably best not to consider such things–especially since the movie doesn’t.) When Rodney arrives, however, he discovers that Bigweld has disappeared and his empire has been usurped by the monstrous Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), who plans on eliminating the low-cost spare parts and replace them with expensive upgrades; since most robots can’t afford these upgrades (and no, the film doesn’t explain the robot monetary system either), they will soon fall apart and be reduced to scrap metal. Those diabolical plans have a wrench thrown into them when it turns out that Rodney is a whiz who can repair anything. Before long, Rodney and his band of misfit bots–Piper (Amanda Bynes), Crank (Drew Carey), and Fender (Robin Williams)and sexy corporate drone Cappy (Halle Berry) set out to find Bigweld and restore him to power before the greedy, genocidal Ratchet can destroy everything that his company once stood for.<

It may seem a bit odd for an animated film that is theoretically being pitched at families to contain a story where the happy ending depends on a hateful young monopolistic tycoon being defeated and replaced by the benevolent old monopolistic tycoon that he usurped (unless you recall that the film was produced under the auspices of Rupert Murdoch) and that is a key to one of the fundamental flaws of “Robots”. Films like “Finding Nemo” and the “Toy Story” series worked in part because they didn’t require such convoluted plots to succeed; they were more along the lines of character studies and when there were bad guys (such as Sid in “Toy Story” or the little girl in “Finding Nemo”), they acted that way because it was part of their nature and not because the storyline required it. Instead of trying something along those lines, the makers of “Robots” are content to simply take a bunch of one-note types and stick them in the middle of a rote story where lots of stuff happens, but none of it of any real consequence. In those other films, the excitement came because we genuinely cared about the characters and what would happen to him; by comparison, whatever excitement that is generated by the endless robot bashings and burnings in the climax here comes from the knowledge that the film is just about over.<
The jokes are equally uninspiring. Too often, the film goes for the kind of dumb puns that are so obvious that you don’t even give them credit for having the audaciousness to attempt them. Other times, the film is content to offer scenes that copy elements from earlier, better films; one character starts singing “Singin’ in the Oil” and another robot, while beginning to breakdown, starts to recite “Daisy, Daisy . . .” a la HAL in “2001”. Since it is unlikely that most members of the target audience have seen those films, such bits have clearly been inserted in an effort to give older viewers a laugh or two. However, if a person is smart enough to appreciate the beauty of “2001", it is equally unlikely that they are going to find such nonsense at all amusing. Then again, these jokes are pearls when compared to the inexplicable moment when a bunch of robots, despite being mechanical, somehow manage to engage in a farting contest for no other reason than to get giggles from little kids for whom flatulence is the easiest path to laughter.<

The voice casting is another problem. All of the actors heard here are strong performers but, with the exception of the instantly recognizable gravelly cadences of Mel Brooks, none of them have the kind of distinct voices that lend themselves particularly well for an animated film. Instead of being cast for their talents, they seem to have been recruited for the specific demographics they could presumably lure in; McGregor could bring in the hipsters (and provide a subliminal promo for “Revenge of the Sith”), Berry the urban audience, Bynes the teeners and Williams the people who fondly remember his similar work in “Aladdin” While I am loathe to beat this film over the head with the works of Pixar, it is instructive to note that most of their films have not required star voices as much as proper casting. People like Craig T. Nelson and Albert Brooks are not box-office names; they were cast because they were the perfect choices for their roles in “The Incredibles” and “Finding Nemo” (and if you doubt me, please send me the names of anyone who could have played those roles better). The actors here, by comparison, contribute nothing but well-known warm bodies to hype the film on talk shows; if you think that is just a bit of paranoia, consider the fact that “Robots” also finds room for brief appearances from the likes of Jay Leno and Al Roker as well.<

The film was made by the same people who created “Ice Age”, which you may remember chiefly for the opening scene in which a squirrel goes through an incredible series of Rube Goldberg-like adventures while trying to get a hold of a loose acorn. Hoping to score the same kind of response here, this one contains numerous extended sequences in which characters are knocked around and fly through the air in an effort to recapture the magic. Unfortunately, the examples on display here don’t work because they try so hard to dazzle that they never quite get around to entertaining us. If you have an unslakable thirst for watching soulless chunks of metal bouncing around wildly, you will get far more value for your entertainment dollar by playing the pinball game of your choice.

“Robots” is the kind of expensive cheap movie that will no doubt score a big opening weekend (thanks to families looking for something to do) only to disappear from memory the minute that something better comes along (and since “The Incredibles” hits DVD in a few days, that time may come sooner than later). Frankly, the most entertaining aspect regarding the film was the hilariously inaccurate press kit that Fox sent out to journalists; on the first page alone, it refers to Jay Leno as an Oscar nominee and claims that “for the first time ever, an animated feature presents a totally imagined world”–apparently forgetting Fox’s own “Titan A.E.” for starters. Apparently, the publicity people wrote things up without even taking a cursory look at the subject at hand; considering the quality of the end product, I suppose I can hardly blame them.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11795&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/10/05 23:25:01
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User Comments

4/05/12 SEAN DUTRA weak form the company unenjoyable 2 stars
2/27/12 Sariah It is really cute at the beginning and is visually pleasing but it lacks story 3 stars
12/31/08 Sully my 7 yr old loved it....I almost fell asleep.... 4 stars
6/25/08 Mario Good movie, but its nothing special. 4 stars
10/04/07 Jodi We love it. Not sure what people expect from a childs movie. It was funny & Visual! 5 stars
7/01/06 George Great looking movie with nothing inside 3 stars
5/05/06 dionwr Visually wonderful with forgettable story 3 stars
5/02/06 Ryan_A Meh. Visually stunning, but soulless. 3 stars
5/01/06 David Cornelius see above review 3 stars
5/01/06 HBS-SH connelly's cans 3 stars
4/21/06 Jack Very Dissapointing 3 stars
3/27/06 Brian Meyer Another discharge from the Dreamworks CGI playbook 1 stars
1/06/06 JM Synth People seem to pre-judge this on the fact its not pixar, but this was actually pretty good 4 stars
12/23/05 Michele cute and funny 4 stars
10/15/05 Quigley the story is undeveloped, but williams was awesome and the movie visually stunning 3 stars
9/29/05 tatum Nice visuals, dry story 3 stars
9/26/05 rafi Great ! 5 stars
9/20/05 Jonathon Holmes Robin Willams saves this predictable screenplay 3 stars
9/07/05 Tom Burns A very imaginative and enjoyable film. Robin Williams was great. 4 stars
8/29/05 ES Better than Valiant but ultimately its no Shrek 3 stars
8/08/05 Del Not bad. 3 stars
7/03/05 Jay Norris Fabulously Family Fun! 5 stars
6/29/05 John Ay Enjoyable for adults and children. Robin Williams was a riot as always. 5 stars
6/10/05 Lucy Screw you this was hilarious. Everyone nailed it. Especially Mrs. Trumbly as Big Weld! 5 stars
5/02/05 Gary Good effects but ultimately not satisfying 4 stars
4/30/05 Alyson Loved the movie and feelings between the characters. Ewan made me love RodneyC. 5 stars
4/24/05 Quigley lacked heart and tons of laughs, but there were its moments. Robin Williams was awesome! 3 stars
4/16/05 iteachpc Very good movie; we enjoyed it! 4 stars
4/06/05 drfardook Its a corporate children's movie. Smoke a joint if you're over 11 and its ok. 3 stars
4/03/05 Smitty Saw it at IMAX - the plot is boring but the movie is visually stunning 4 stars
4/03/05 M if it wasnt for robin this would of been straight to video! 3 stars
4/01/05 irene diaz Not funny, my kid got bored and I did too 2 stars
3/25/05 Greg Ursic Oh Robin, where is the wit? A blah movie at best with little for adults or kids. 2 stars
3/24/05 Chance Had the potential to be really good 3 stars
3/24/05 malcontent clunkier than nemo, more eye-popping than monsters inc. 3 stars
3/24/05 KingNeutron Going to be a classic; but Brooks wasn't convincing. RWilliams was awesome as usual, tho. 5 stars
3/23/05 monnilove cute interesting , not a must see again though 4 stars
3/21/05 Kevin Rose Good kids movie. 3 stars
3/20/05 Elizabeth S Found it a bit boring -- characters aren't very engaging. 3 stars
3/19/05 Mark McLeod It's alright in IMAX but still not as good as a Pixar movie 3 stars
3/18/05 PAMELA HANSEN you have to be a kid at heart to like this movie laughed all night long i loved it 5 stars
3/17/05 felicia very humorous movie 4 stars
3/17/05 Tyrantis Would have been better if it had less characters and more character development. 3 stars
3/17/05 mott the drupal fun Fun FUN 5 stars
3/15/05 Andrea Really cute! Funny, too - altho lots of "bathroom" humor for the 12 year old set. 4 stars
3/14/05 Kenneth Silver Movie where animation wins over plot, could use a heart 3 stars
3/13/05 Jeff Anderson Visually eye-catching & sometimes funny, but a mean cruel edge & a weak script KILL IT!!!!! 2 stars
3/13/05 Ryan Nearly Nemo, slow starter... 3 stars
3/12/05 Melina Visually stunning, cute and funny 4 stars
3/11/05 brody not the greatest but good for kids, kind of silly 3 stars
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  11-Mar-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 27-Sep-2005



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