Mr. and Mrs. Copperbottom (voices of Stanley Tucci and Dianne Weist) become the parents of Rodney (Ewan McGregor) after twelve hours of labor to assemble their made-to-order baby ‘bot. As Rodney “grows” up, his interchangeable parts are replaced with “hand-me-downs”, or “pre-owned” parts. The Copperbottom’s don’t have much money; after all, dad is a dishwasher.
When Rodney grows up he wants to become like his idol, Mr. Bigweld (Mel Brooks), whose on air persona wants to help all the robots by inventing things and supplying them with spare parts so they don’t have to buy expensive news ones. Rodney is very creative and he takes his invention to the big city to sell to Mr. Bigweld. There he discovers that Bigweld is missing and his place taken at the helm of the corporation by Ratchet (Greg Kinnear).
Rodney and the other ‘bots he meets join forces to combat Ratchet and his Manchurian Candidate-like mother who do away with replacement parts and demand that the ‘bots only buy new models or be banished to the junk yard.
Robots is highly entertaining animation (for kids and adults) and the pop-culture dialogue is very funny (mostly adults).
I suppose Robots is intended as just fun, kind of an anthropomorphic-like morality tale (using robots instead) about the mechanical dehumanization of Fordism and planned obsolescence of manufactured goods. But I had three issues with it. One, I disliked the use of mail-order “children”; smacks of genetic selection, even though toys do have to be assembled. Two, it’s easy to accept animals as having human characteristics because they will never be human;but the humanization of robots is another matter. Lots of questions arise about the nature of the human person (a good thing), but since robots will never be able to reflect upon themselves reflecting, I didn’t care for the humanization of the machine and the mechanization of the human. What is it saying about the nature of the human person? Three, the battle between good and evil. Life just isn’t that simple and neither is conflict. Did the characters even try negotiation as a way to resolve conflict? No, only violence. This kind of ideology is repeated over and over in children’s movies, maybe because it’s easy.
I wish our creative people and entertainment industries wouldn’t take the easy way out to resolve conflict so often.
Robots is a fun flick, but take the time to talk it.