‘Robots’ Raises Bar in Box Office Creativity

Emin Avakian

In the world of cinema, there are the movies that only appeal to adults, and there are movies that only appeal to children. It is very rare that a movie appeals to both. “Robots” is one of the few.
The animated movie stars Ewan McGregor as the voice of Rodney Copperbottom, an ambitious young inventor, Mel Brooks as Bigweld, an idolized robot, and Robin Williams as Fender, an out-of-this-world wacky tour guide. “Robots” is co-directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha.

If you’re thinking that “Robots” is anything like last year’s blockbuster hit, “I,Robot,” you are mistaken. While the latter had humans in it, the former consists only of robots.

The robots are almost as realistic as human beings: they can breathe, talk, walk, sing, dance, let out gas and can do everything else that humans do but in their own robotic way. The opening scene of the movie shows the Copperbottoms having a baby. Keep in mind we are talking about robots, so their way of giving birth is different. The robots give birth by un-wrapping their new baby, who has arrived in a shipping crate, with some assembly required.

What works best for this movie is the amazing detail with which “Robots” is made. In the beautiful Robot City, which is similar to New York’s Times Square, it is mesmerizing seeing the towers, skyways and the other fantasized architectural designs. Also, each robot is uniquely created, not only physically with nuts and bolts, but also with the robots’ personalities.

Williams, who we know from “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and “Aladdin” lights up the big screen just with his voice. Knowing the comic genius and following his career, a viewer of this movie will recognize the jokes and one-liners, but that’s not saying he isn’t funny.

The casting of the characters was the big flaw, starting with McGregor as Rodney. If you’re not familiar with McGregor, he was in “Black Hawk Down,” and more recently, “Big Fish.” Being Scottish, McGregor’s heavy accent ultimately gets in the way of him voicing an American robot.

Secondly, there are just too many big names voicing too many characters. Jay Leno voices a fire hydrant. Did the directors really have to use Jay Leno? Couldn’t they chosen a non-working actor to voice a fire hydrant?

The positives outweigh the negatives, though, and “Robots” is a fun movie to see.

With that being said, “Robots” is just over an hour long and it is worth the price of admission.

Rating: * * * (out of four)

Geghard Arakelian

“Robots” dazzles audiences with pictorial beauty but fries with lame humor.

“Robots” finally puts computer animation to good use. Its setting of a fantasy world of retro-stylized robots and fine attention to detail give the viewer some intense eye candy to gobble-up. Viewing this movie, you will not know what to give more attention to: the intensely intricate environment and character skins or plot.

The cast does a wonderful job as well. Ewan McGregor, who does the voice of Rodney-the hero of the story-fulfills his part perfectly. McGregor’s voice compliments Rodney’s persona of a young adventurer pursuing his child hood dreams.

Halle Berry also does a fine job of playing Cappy, Rodney’s confidante for the second half of the movie. Her golden-hearted character mixed in with doll-like looks adds an innocent love element to the movie.
The adventure is great and the resolution is inspirational. The theme of, “no matter what you are made of you can still shine” brings a rush of emotion to viewers of any age.

However, there is one important element that scratched the marble floor: the humor. Humor is a must for a children’s movie. The problem with “Robots is not its lack of humor but its use of lame humor.
Unlike its pictorial creativity , the humor is not genuine. At one point the audience is listening to Robin William’s character, Fender, singing “I’m Singing in the Oil,” a parody of “I’m Singing in the Rain.” Williams needs to be handed a respectable script; something that won’t give me a headache.

The comedy was at its peaking points only when the film rips-off scenes from recent movies such as “The Matrix” and songs such as Chingy’s “Right Thurr.”

Sadly, the only peaking comical points were still of a low altitude. In these moments of the film the audience was reluctant to crack a smile. Not even the children in the theatre were laughing.
Families and people of all ages should go see “Robots” for its stunning visuals and great morals; but they shouldn’t expect to laugh during the funny parts.

Rating: * * * (out of four).