Robots

Robots is an enter­tain­ing movie, quite worth tak­ing the kids to see. It is a bit light on plot, but that’s okay. The humor was right up my alley, visu­al and ver­bal puns were the main course, cracked me up. For instance, at one point all the Robots do The Robot; expect­ed but hilar­i­ous nonethe­less. The cast and sound­track were a bit pre­dictably all-star, I could’ve done with less Robin Williams [I think he’s jumped the shark] and more Tom Waits.

The ani­ma­tion itself wasn’t ground­break­ing, but the cre­ativ­i­ty extant in pro­duc­tion design is what makes the film visu­al­ly inter­est­ing. Robot City is a com­bi­na­tion Rube Gold­berg Machine [which remind­ed me of this awe­some Hon­da com­mer­cial], Cuck­oo Clock, and Pin­ball Game. A lot of won­der in this comes through math­e­mat­ics. Every­thing in the city is timed to Swiss pre­ci­sion and it all works smooth­ly togeth­er.

The plot is basic: small-town boy with big-town dreams takes on a mega­corp and saves the lit­tle guy. Basic themes of indi­vid­u­al­ism and good self-esteem [the decrepit robots must resist want­i­ng to be upgrad­ed] are enforced, and the same lies are told. Rod­ney Cop­per­bot­tom, the main char­ac­ter, makes good on his ver­sion of the Amer­i­can Dream and becomes the very thing he sought to over­throw. Although we are told that not being top of the line is okay, the oth­er robots still wish for the glam­or, and Rodney’s girl­friend ends up being one of the neo-robots instead of one of the retro-ones. So the film says one thing and does anoth­er.

I won­der if con­stant bom­bard­ment with this sort of dou­ble­speke fathers a sort of cul­tur­al schiz­o­phre­nia and dis­sat­is­fac­tion among us. We learn to resent pow­er while want­i­ng it for our­selves at a very young age, and then our engage­ment for life becomes twist­ed into some sort of ambi­tious pow­er-strug­gle. If chil­dren weren’t con­stant­ly exposed to con­flict­ing mes­sages in a sin­gle source I won­der if there would be an increase in sat­is­fac­tion and con­tent­ment with life instead of always striv­ing for improve­ment.

I doubt it, humans seem built to press on the bound­aries, but maybe we’d do it with a bet­ter atti­tude instead of a sense of vengeance. Or maybe I’m read­ing too deeply into a kid movie.

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  • Yeah, Dis­ney movies and tee­ny-bop­per chick-flicks are pret­ty rep­re­hen­si­ble when it comes to this too, but in a slight­ly dif­fer­ent way.

    Their movies always seem to have that ugly duck­ling kin­da dis­par­i­ty going on in them–
    a) the char­ac­ter (fre­quent­ly female) is unhap­py b/c they are dif­fer­ent,
    b) the char­ac­ter tries to “fit in” with the in-crowd to gain pop­u­lar­i­ty,
    c) they end up shun­ning the incrowd BUT
    d) this even­tu­al­ly results in them “find­ing them­selves” by real­iz­ing how phys­i­cal­ly beau­ti­ful they are if they put on a bit of make­up and do some­thing with their hair.
    And oh yeah, d) they learn some­thing about being hap­py with them­selves or yad­da yadda–though this is foot­not­ed with the reminder that the most impor­tant thing is to turn from the ugly duck­ling into the beau­ti­ful swan.

    It’s amaz­ing that teens and chil­dren aren’t more f-ed up than they already are.

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