Long on visual flair and short on originality, Robots is the latest entry in the competition between Fox and Dreamworks to see who can finish a distant second behind Pixar in the field of computer animated features. That’s not to say that this isn’t worth 89 minutes of your time. Not only do the visual puns and pop culture reference fly past with cheerful abandon, the look of the film is as close to gloriously photo-realistic as an CG animated movie has come. The world of Robot City is a lushly imagined creation that looks like Minority Report as directed by Rube Goldberg.
An ambitious but naive young robot named Rodney Copperbottom (voice of Ewan McGregor) sets out from Rivet Town for Robot City to get a job with Big Weld Industries as an inventor. When he gets there, however, Big Weld (voice of Mel Brooks) is nowhere to be found and his company is controlled by Ratchet (voice of Greg Kinnear), who has plans to corner the market on spare parts and force robots to buy expensive “upgrades” instead. Disillusioned by Ratchet’s greed, Rodney falls in with a rickety bunch of “outmodes,” including Fender (voice of Robin Williams), his sister Piper (voice of Amanda Bynes), Lug (voice of Harland Williams) and Crank (voice of Drew Carey). Rodney’s skill for fixing broken down robots earns him the respect of outmodes desperate for spare parts and also the ire of Ratchet and the power behind him, his mother Madame Gasket (voice of Jim Broadbent).
It’s a bare thread of a plot and Robots doesn’t do anything unexpected with it. Still, the dazzling eye candy and the sheer energy with which it tries to entertain you makes it a movie that will delight the 10-year-olds and amuse their parents.