Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
|Featuring:||Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Robin Williams, Mel Brooks, Greg Kinnear|
|Distributor:||20th Century Fox|
Repair for adventure!
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Set on a world populated entirely by robots, this is the story of a young genius, Rodney (Ewan McGregor), who wants to make robots capable of making the world a better place, but he finds his dream challenged by a corporate tyrant and a master inventor, Big Weld (Mel Brooks), while also being seduced by a sexy corporate robot, Cappy (Halle Berry).”
Welcome to Rivet Town where two happily married, working-class robots finally have a baby ’bot to assemble. Baby robots arrive in build-it-yourself kits, and the long hours of assembly are a labor of love, because, as Mrs. Copperbottom explains, “…making the baby is the fun part.” After 12 hours of happy assembly, little Rodney Copperbottom (the voice of Ewan McGregor) is “born.”
As Rodney grows from year to year, he is assembled from hand-me-down parts. As a little tike, he uses training wheels to learn to “walk.” He has one embarrassing year in high school with a torso that once belonged to a teenaged girl cousin. Rodney dreams of being an inventor and making life better and easier for his family. Rodney’s hero is Big Weld (the voice of Mel Brooks), who is on TV regularly—urging everyone in Robot Land to come up with ideas to solve problems. He welcomes new ideas at his big corporation, Bigweld Industries. Big Weld says, “See a need, fill a need.” His slogan is, “You can shine no matter what you’re made of.” Everyone looks up to him.
However, one of Rodney’s inventions gets him and his Dad in trouble at Gunk’s Greasy Spoon, where his Dad works as a dishwasher (literally). His Dad is required to pay back the damages, which the family cannot afford.
Rodney is determined to go to Robot City. He is sure if he can just get in to see Big Weld, this encouraging mentor will give him a job inventing all kinds of great do-dads to help all robot kind. Rodney’s Dad has always inspired him to think big. Mr. Copperbottom encourages Rodney to show Big Weld his ideas. With fatherly wisdom, he bids his son goodbye—cheering him on with these words, “Follow your dreams, never give up!”
Rodney arrives in glamourous Robot City with high hopes and big dreams. He befriends Fender (Robin Williams at the top of his form), a robot with a few screws loose, and the rest of his rag-tag friends. They take Rodney to Aunt Fanny’s Place, a well known safe house for newcomers to the big city. Aunt Fanny (the well known voice of Jennifer Coolidge) is the brunt of a crescendo of rear end jokes—as her “fanny” is a pretty awesome derriere! When Rodney asks why she’s called Aunt Fanny, Fender exclaims “well, we couldn’t call her Aunt Booty!” The guys make little quips like she’s been rear-ended and referring to her as being really artsy-fartsy. All the kids in the theater were rolling in the isles at the finale to this scene, full of a wide variety of explosive sounds of robots passing wind.
Meanwhile, the sinister Rachet (the voice of Greg Kinnear) and his mother, the evil Gasket (voice of Jim Broadbent), have taken over Bigweld Industries, holding the beloved Big Weld hostage in his laboratory. Rachet, the new president, is determined to make himself and Mommy rich no longer providing spare parts to fix old robots (“outmodes”). From now on, the company will increase profits by making perfectly good robots feel bad about themselves, so that they will order unnecessary, but very shinny, overly-expensive upgrade parts. Bigweld Industries’ new slogan will be, “Why be you, when you can be new?” All outmodes are planned to be swept up and sent to the “Chop Shop” where they are never seen again… the equivalent to Robot Death!
There is one corporate robot, Cappy (the voice of Halle Berry), who does not agree with Rachet’s tactics, and is suspicious of the whereabouts of the big boss himself, Big Weld.
Through a set of hilarious circumstances, Cappy and Rodney come together to thwart the evil plans of Rachet and Gasket. After Big Weld fails to appear at the annual Big Weld Ball, they and their friends go in search Big Weld, so that he can help them save all robots—outdated, old and new alike.
Just in the nick of time Big Weld, Rodney, Cappy and Fender come to the rescue. The outmodes know it is their time to shine, as they defeat Rachet and Gasket’s menacing robot army, with Rodney’s ingenuity and fast on-his-feet inventions saving the day!
The movie includes comic references to robot’s hinder parts, and there are some potty jokes, including an extended fart joke sequence, and some mild sexual humor, including jokes about cross-dressing and “fixing” a dog. Adults will notice these slight innuendoes, but most will fly right over the heads of kids; they will be most enthralled with Aunt Fanny jokes. As expected, there is no foul language in this kid-friendly flick. On the way out of the theater, I asked some kids (ranging in age from 7 to 12) what they liked best about “Robots.” They all said they liked Fender and Aunt Fanny the best.
Adults will see a familiar story unfolding—the one we all know, of a misfit seeking his dreams, and through much peril, solid friendships, coupled with the support of family, overcoming seemingly unsurmountable odds to achieve his goal. To children, this may be a new concept, reinforcing self esteem and unconditional love. Parents can use this story as a springboard to discuss the difference between the two mottos used by Big Weld and Rachet—and what it meant to Rodney to have his Mom and Dad believe in him and to know he had their unconditional support and love.
Over and over God encourages us to have faith (Heb. 11:1-6, Jude 20-21), hope (1 Peter 1:3, Romans 5:5), be a good example (1 Timothy 4:12, John 13:1-17), and to show love and kindness (Gal. 6:10, 1 Cor. 13:4-8). The characters in “Robots” are generally a good example for children of all ages. Parents can pick up on this and enforce this type of behavior. Our world is reft with so much negative information, what a refreshing experience it was to sit for a while and bask in the glow of sheer joy and positive, even silly humor. Thank God for the gift of laughter.
By the way, you won’t want to miss the little CGI cartoon preceding the film, which is the continuing saga of a little squirrel trying to get a much sought after nut—a side splitter in itself!