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Directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Valdanha.
Written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel.
Starring the voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear and Robin Williams.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  3/24/05


You know, I'm sitting there in the theater watching the credits roll by for the new animated film "Robots"--already an instant sure-fire shot for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, since they only make freakin' five of these a year--and I already could tell this was going to be boring.  The music wasn't quite right (in fact, the soundtrack was off all over the place...more on this later), the credits showed me that damned near everybody signed on to voice a character in this movie (Stanley Tucci?  Paul Giamatti?  Freakin' Jay Leno???), and the intro was kinda boring...oh, AND the directors had given us that shitbag project back in 2002 known as "Ice Age."

Smells like...trouble.

"Robots" is the story of Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), a good kid from a small town in this robot world that wants to make it big inventor.  Knowing that his fate lies not in this small town, but in the creatively-titled Robot City, Rodney heads off for the big time and meets a rag-tag group of characters, like Piper (Amanda Bynes), Crank (Drew Carey), and Fender (Robin Williams), who are all fun-loving, er, robot types that, well, want to help Rodney realize his dreams.  Trouble is afoot, however, thanks to a large conglomerate headed up by the nefarious Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), who is trying to take any robot not interested in upgrading its equipment and throwing them into the scrap heap.  So, with the help of Robot City's Yoda-like elder statesman Big Weld (Mel Brooks), Rodney tries to stop Ratchet's...too...late.

Thanks to its writing and its snore factor, I'm still really not sure what was going on with the script for "Robots", but that doesn't matter because this is a kid's movie, and kids apparently won't give a shit as long as cool things are going on, there are some laughs, and the colors are all pretty-like.  The filmmakers don't seem to put much value in the adults that are assuredly planted in the theater with their children, though, which is the main difference between Pixar films and the ones done by all of the other American studios--they just don't factor in the adult as well as Pixar's movies do.  As a result, I was sitting in the theater not laughing, not happy, and nonplussed by the activity happening around me.

The most notable exceptions I can think of in recent years have been the two "Shrek" films to this formula; kids and adults alike can get a lot out of those animated wonders, even if I thought both of them were average.  In the case of "Robots", I sat near a couple of families just to see if I could get the sense that they were interested in the film at all; honestly, I don't think they were.  The kids weren't laughing at the antics going on, at least not as much as I thought they would; they didn't always get the jokes that the Robin Williams character is constantly spewing from his metallic motormouth.  I love hearing kids ooh and aah at things happening in a movie...but, there wasn't much of that in "Robots."  If the kids aren't having a good time, and the parents seem bored (one dad went out of his way to send text messages throughout the running time; so annoying), then what the fuck?

The voice work all seemed strong, I guess; hell, how would I know, when you can't even see the actors working.  Williams was occasionally funny, but mostly it was all chatter; the funniest scene in the movie goes straight for the toilet humor, thanks to a sequence about farting.  The ending was not that great; there are no truly thrilling sequences, things that would make the kids get all excited.  And, that soundtrack--I'm sitting here watching robots stroll around town to "Right Thurr" by Chingy??  You want random?  How about a soundtrack with Kenny G, Nate Dogg, Britney Spears and Barry White?  Made no sense to me and brought the whole project down a notch for me, as it felt like a soundtrack-by-committee in the worst possible way.

What can I say?  I saw the movie two hours ago and I've forgotten almost everything about the damned thing.  I can't even say that the kids would enjoy this, but there are some decent moments and the animation is fairly cool...and, they show the long version of the "Star Wars Episode III" trailer, which is a plus.  Why won't movies be better?  Why?

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09