CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

Robots - a kiddie movie that celebrates American business

When I was a senior at Deerfield Beach High School, I
ushered at the United Artists movies at Pompano.
"Walt Disney's The Fox and the Hound" opened, it was
the first time I saw a Disney animated feature on the
big screen. My colleague in crowd control wondered why
I would be interested in such a baby movie. I told
him, "People pay to see one painting in a museum. An
animated movie is multiple paintings." My colleague
gave me a look and I later caught this individual
watching "The Fox and the Hound" during our down

"Robots" is an artistic film, but is more
cooler than "The Fox and the Hound."
From the animated creators of "Ice Age,"
20th Century Fox has defined their animated studio in
direct contrast to the DreamWorks factory.
Given their success with "Ice Age," 20th Century Fox
animators avoid the reliance upon pop culture gags
that DreamWorks frequently relies upon. Fox's" "Robots" and
"Ice Age" will date better than DreamWorks'
"Shrek 2" and "Shark's Tale.**

"Robots" opens with the robotic birth of Rodney
Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan Macgregor), the son of
Herb (Stanley Tucci) and Moma Copperbottom (Diane Weist).
Despite a house full of love and respect,
the Copperbottoms are a struggling middle class
family. Herb Copperbottom is a dishwasher at
Gunk's Greasy Spoon. Watching his father struggle,
Rodney hits upon an idea to make his father's work
easier and more efficient. Despite a few mechanical setbacks,
Rodney decides to take his invention to the big city.

Growing up under the media influence of Big Weld (Mel
Brooks), Rodney is determined to meet his mentor and
present his invention. Instead Rodney learns that
Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), a corporate raider is really
running Big Weld's company. Ratchet's priority is huge profits
over efficient productivity. Rodney is named the
enemy of Big Weld Enterprises and he must flee into
the streets. Rodney is adopted by Fender (Robin
Williams), who introduces Rodney to his band of
Impoverished friends. These robots are impoverished
because they are no longer finding replacement parts
and are becoming scrap metal for Ratchet and his devilish mother.

The robot holocaust of the scrap melting could have
been scary to pre school aged children. Fortunately
these scenes feature the manic energy of Robin
Williams and the darkest moments undertake a lighter
tone. The dark tone of "Robots" may be better
understood by adults who may be the victim of
corporate corruption. (This film appears to be a parable of the Charles Schwab company)
Ratchet's motivation has the same rationale one encounters from corporate
customer service representatives.

The narrative drive does run out of gas and relies on
too much Robin Williams to pad out the story time. Yet
"Robots" is a triumph of style over content. The
Mechanical world of "Robots" owes a debt to Charlie
Chaplin's "Modern Times,," Max Escher's artwork and
the inventive Warner Brothers cartoons from the 1930's
and 1940's.

"Robots" is a modern movie that deserves it's
success. The film offers a unique fable that works on
both the adult and children's level. "Robots" shares
the American Dream of entrepreneurship and positive
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