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Robots (**)
Directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha
Written by Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Jim McClain, and Ron Mita
Principal Cast
Halle Berry -- Cappy (voice)
Lucille Bliss -- Pigeon Lady (voice)
Terry Bradshaw -- Broken Arm Bot (voice)
Jim Broadbent -- Madame Gasket (voice)
Mel Brooks -- Bigweld (voice)
Amanda Bynes -- Piper (voice)
Drew Carey -- Crank (voice)
Jennifer Coolidge -- Aunt Fanny (voice)
Will Denton -- Young Rodney (voice)
Marshall Efron -- Lamppost/Toilet Bot/Bass Drum/Microphone (voice)
Damien Fahey -- Stage Announcer (voice)
Lowell Ganz -- Mr. Gasket (voice)
Paul Giamatti -- Tim the Gate Guard (voice)
Dan Hedaya -- Mr. Gunk (voice)
Jackie Hoffman -- Water Cooler (voice)
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Robots The animated feature Robots is very much what you expect from the makers of Ice Age -- mildly entertaining in spots. The dance on ball bearings was my favorite bit. Robin Williams delivers so many one-liners that a few of them are bound to be funny. Like so many postmodern cartoons, Robots mocks sentimentality at the same time that it relies on sentimentality to keep the viewer interested. The funniest bit is the cartoon before the movie, featuring Scrat. It is very short and ends "To Be Continued." I assumed we would see more of Scrat after the credits, but there are no credit cookies. I guess we will have to wait for the next animated feature from Blue Sky to see more of their most successful character -- or maybe the DVD will have a new Scrat cartoon, like the DVD of Ice Age did.

The plot is the standard rich-guy-tries-to-screw-working-class-hero plot that seems to power half the films that come out of Hollywood. It has become such a standard that, by now, it amounts to boilerplate upon which to hang character and incident and gags. Even rich people let their kids watch cartoons like this, which is a bit like NRA members allowing their kids to watch Bambi.

Everything is so politically correct it is painful. The girls kick ass. The villain is nagged by his mother. The obligatory fart joke is expended into an entire sequence -- which leads me to wonder how robots living on a world without biology know about farts. Of course, better politically correct than politically incorrect. To appreciate how politically incorrect movies used to be, you have to watch some really old movies, in which the black character sees a ghost, shows the whites of his eyes, and says, "Feets, don't fail me now." Or in which the female characters exist only to serve the needs of the male characters -- wait a minute, you don't have to go back any further than the SciFi Channel Legends of Earthsea to see that.

The real trouble with Robots is that, except for a few moments of inspired animation, there are no new ideas here, and too few funny bits. As with The Polar Express, the IMAX version may be an improvement.

Copyright © 2005 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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