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Robots’ delivers sharp humor for all ages

| Tuesday, March 22, 2005

“Robots,” directed by Chris Wedge, is every bit as enjoyable as its computer animation and celebrity-heavy cast make it appear. Clever dialogue and characters as well as humorous voice acting, especially by Robin Williams, make “Robots” as fun for a college audience as it is for its intended younger audience.Ewan McGregor voices Rodney Copperbottom, the son of a dishwashing machine. Rodney grows up dreaming of being an inventor, and as a young man travels to Robot City to get a job at Bigweld Industries. However, he quickly discovers that his role model, Bigweld (Mel Brooks), is nowhere to be found, and his replacement, Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), is a greedy tycoon whose evil plans will destroy poor and sick robots everywhere. Rodney is joined in his quest to stop Ratchet by Fender (Robin Williams), an eccentric Robot City resident, Cappy, a Bigweld executive (Halle Berry), and numerous others along the way.The plot, while at times bordering on cheesy, has the type of feel-good theme that one expects from a movie of this genre, illustrated from the beginning by Bigweld’s slogan, “You can shine no matter what you’re made of.” Though it may seem overly sentimental when the hero tears up at a pep talk from Dad, and some plot twists are rather predictable, it is fitting with the overall atmosphere created for the intended audience and genre. Even the sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle social commentary does not detract from the usually humorous tone. The humor is clever enough to appeal to any age group, at times jokingly referencing other films and at other times utilizing subtle, more mature jokes much the way the movie “Shrek” does. Robin Williams does not disappoint, as his quirky character provides the film’s most humorous moments. True to his style, much of Robin Williams’ performance was ad-libbed.Even the humor has weak points, but they are far outnumbered by the truly memorable scenes and lines. An early scene involving Rodney and Fender on a crazy transportation system drags on for a bit too long, but Fender more than makes up for it when he performs a spoof of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Amanda Bynes, the voice of Fender’s little sister Piper, is disappointing compared with the cast’s other performances, but at least the character begins to redeem herself by shooting plunger arrows at evil robots.Whether the viewer is drawn by Williams’ comedy, the fun of an animated film, or even McGregor’s attractive voice (with an American accent sadly but effectively replacing his usual Scottish), “Robots” provides ninety minutes of solid entertainment that does not disappoint.