Shiny Robots Lacks Function
"Robots" is a prime example of what I dislike about modern digital animations. It is visually beautiful, it's full of comedy and with Robin Williams providing some wise cracks it has some moments of cleverness, it's full of action and never has a lull in momentum. But despite this and being entertaining when you watch it, it is missing something extra, something which makes it memorable and a stand out movie rather than just another digital animation. That something extra is the storyline, because whilst it has one it's all too ordinary and the knock on effect is those numerous moments of comedy end up little more than ordinary.
As a young robot Rodney Copperbottom grew up watching Bigweld's weekly TV show and all he wanted to be was become an inventor like his hero. Now grown up Rodney decides to head to the big city to show Bigweld his invention, a little kitchen helper, but soon realises that things are not like he expected. Bigweld is no longer in charge of his business and the devious Ratchet now controls things and only wants one thing and that is to make money. Along with a bunch of rag bag robots that Rodney meets when he gets to the city he tries to take on the might of Ratchet and help Bigweld take control of his company back.
Like many a good animation "Robots" is a movie with a message and it provides the backbone too the story. That message is to never give up on your dreams and to be honest it is hammered home at every opportunity as we watch Rodney head to the big city and face numerous knock backs but never gives up on his dream. Subtle it most certainly isn't and to be honest it's a good message which means that the ordinary storyline has a purpose. As for that ordinary storyline well in classic animation style you have a hero, an unscrupulous bad guy and some odd ball friends for are young hero as he makes a stand and tries to beat the bad guy whilst reaching for his dream. It's not original and the embellishments to make it work in a robot world fail to disguise how ordinary it is.
And because the storyline is ordinary many of the funny moments fail to be anything better. Actually the opening to "Robots" is surprising good with plenty of comedy with an adult slant as Mr. and Mrs. Copperbottom make young Rodney. The trouble is that once the opening is done with and we watch Rodney heading off to the big city it all becomes rather ordinary. Yes there is Robin Williams delivering some quick fire comedy as he voices Fender but even that doesn't make the comedy that much more interesting. In many ways the comedy is of the simplest form which will probably entertain younger audiences but other than the clever opening sequence there is little too amuse an adult audience.
Aside from the issues of an ordinary storyline and comedy which isn't much better it has to be said that visually "Robots" is as good as any digital animation. The scene where Rodney meets Fender and they take some form of pinball taxi ride into the city is brilliantly orchestrated, fast, snappy and a creative visual treat. And the minor moments, the little helper robot which Rodney invents is a wonderful visual creation. All of which means is that visually "Robots" is a movie which will captivate audiences but leave those wanting something more basically still wanting something more.
As for the voicing well Robin Williams is instantly recognizable as Fender bringing his chaotic rapid comedy to the character and it is wonderful to here Mel Brooks as Bigweld. But beyond that the voicing of the various characters could have been anyone despite "Robots" having a list of stars such as Ewan McGregor, Paul Giamatti, Jay Leno, Greg Kinnear, James Earl Jones and many more all lending their tones to various characters. That is one of the main reasons why "Robots" isn't that memorable as beyond Robin Williams and Mel Brooks no one else's voicing is memorable.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Robots" is entertaining it's not very memorable. It is basically an average digital animation which is fun to watch with great visuals and some creativity but beyond that doesn't leave a lasting impression. Even the comedy of Robin Williams and Mel Brooks isn't that memorable meaning that whilst "Robots" has a good message about going for your dreams it has little else.