Review Date: March 11, 2005
Director: Chris Wedge
Writer: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
Producers: Jerry Davis, John Donkin
Ewan McGregor as Rodney
Robin Williams as Fender
Halle Berry as Cappy
Rodney is a regular ol’ robot with big dreams. One day, he leaves his small Rivet Town and heads on over to big Robot City, in hopes of sharing his invention with the greatest robot of them all: Big Weld. Once there, Rodney realizes that life isn’t so easy, that Big Weld is missing and that some other punk-ass robot is running the show. What to do, what to do? Rodney hooks up with some other loser robots and fights back, dammit!
Not much about this film’s trailer, pre-release advertising, pictures, posters or online clips had excited me to any extent, and now that I’ve seen the film in all of its glory (on an IMAX screen, no less), I can’t say that there’s much about this animated concoction that excited me even as I watched it. Unlike Pixar’s animated creations, this film seemed to be missing several key ingredients that set films like it apart from the rest, including a memorable lead character, memorable key moments, memorable humor or memorable tunes. Basically, there wasn’t much about the film that stuck with me as I walked out of the theater and past the gaggle of kids awaiting their ROBOTS posters, and that’s when it hit me: “This film felt like it was made more for the younger audiences, than any of the others.” Or maybe it was just that extended ‘fart’ scene that had me thinking that, or the extended “roller-coaster ride” scene as Rodney first arrived at Robot City. That got kinda tiring after a while. That said, I was one of the few people out there who thought FINDING NEMO was also geared more towards the kiddies, and look how much money that fish made, so don’t take my word for it. This film, however, doesn’t really offer much in terms of “inside jokes”, pop-culture references (unless you consider a Britney Spears jab and breakdancing “hip”, I suppose) or adult-themed gags, or anything even remotely original or surprising, in terms of its storyline.
In fact, other than its stale lead character (voiced by a drab Ewan McGregor—accent coming and going), the film’s plotline was really its weakest point with a story about a young robot going to the big city to follow his dreams, in the hopes of making his parents proud, truly not inspiring much in me. Halle Berry’s character, who for some reason received a second billing here, is also pretty drab and barely in the movie. What truly saves the film, in my opinion, other than the pretty colors, the amazing animation and the film’s high-octane final 20 minutes or so, is the inclusion of the human-robot himself, Robin Williams, in yet another one of his patented cocaine-high performances as Fender, a goofy robot who generated in me the film’s only laughs, with Williams able to integrate many of his different accents, characters and voices into the flick. Great job, Robin…you saved this film from being a truly unmemorable affair, in my opinion. Ironically, lots of people will hate the movie because of his over-the-top nature, so I guess it all depends what you’re looking for. I was personally looking for a fun time, a few laughs, great animation, memorable characters and plenty of entertainment value, and received only fragments from any of that. Wait for video, and even then…watch it as it plays in the background for the kids.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian