This movie about a young dreamer from a small town is fun and inspiring, as well as cute and funny. It’s the perfect formula for a family film, even if all the characters are Robots.
The movie opens in Rivet Town, where Herb Copperbottom (Stanley Tucci) is dancing through the streets on his way home from work because he is expecting a huge delivery. When Mrs. Copperbottom (Dianne Weist) tells him he missed the delivery, but that making the baby is the best part, they start building something that is going to change their lives and many other lives in ways they never knew possible. What they build is Rodney Copperbottom, a young idealist with a knack for inventing. His idol is Big Weld (Mel Brooks), an entrepreneur who won’t turn down anyone who submits an invention to him, because he believes in progress, and that there are too many needs going unfulfilled in his city. His motto is “See a need, fill a need.” Rodney keeps this thought with him as he grows up. When graduation arrives, Rodney wants to leave Rivet Town. Rodney (Ewan MacGregor) knows that he can invent great things to help his family, and since his idol, Big Weld, has never turned anyone down, he is going to Robot City to show Big Weld one of his inventions, and make his mark in the industry.
When he gets to Robot City, he meets with Fender (Robin Williams), a strange, obnoxious robot who shares a ride with him on the crosstown express. And what a ride it is! The are stuck together in a small caged ball with padded seats in it, and it goes through a mousetrap-style run through town, flying over buildings, through giant gears, down chutes and slammed around by giant hammers. All this to a track performed by the Blue Man Group. The soundtrack to Robots is worth a review of its own, but Musings will get to that later. Once Rodney gets to Big Weld Ind., he is greeting by Tim the Gate Guard (Paul Giamatti), whom Rodney remembers from the old Big Weld TV show. In the show, Tim would always keep the gate open to let new inventors in at Big Weld’s request, but times and management has changed, and now nobody is allowed in. Rodney flies in over the gate using Wonderbot (Chris Wedge), the kitchen-helper gadget he created to help his father out, which he was hoping would be his big ticket into Big Weld’s. As he is flying over the office, he falls into the boardroom through a skylight and finds out that Big Weld is missing and that an evil corporate jerk, Ratchet (Greg Kinnear) is running things now. Big Weld Ind. is no longer producing parts to fix outmoded robots, and that they are focusing on upgrades, very expensive ones, and many poor, older model robots cannot afford them. Rodney is taken out of Big Weld Ind. but security on a giant magnet, and thrown out the big gate, at the feet of a laughing Tim. He leaves the gate in a huff, very slowly, and all kinds of metal object try to attach themselves to him. He ends up knocked out in a barrel and wakes up to find Fender attempting to steal his foot. This little mistake by Fender turns into a crazy friendship that will change everything for the better for outmoded robots around the country, and bring Ratchet and his scheme to its knees.
This is one movie I never get tired of. It has a great cast of voice actors, and an amazing soundtrack, featuring Earth, Wind & Fire, Fatboy Slim, and many other great artists. The story is as old as time, told by bards, fairytale authors, and maybe even Scheherazade, but this version is fresh and modern, even if the robots have a 1920s Metropolis look. There are lots of goofball antics that will keep the kids giggling, and a budding romance between Rodney and office exec Cappy (Halle Berry) for the ladies to root for. This fun movie is for everyone, and will always be there when you just need a film to help you wind down and perk up at the same time.
I give this film a Musing review of