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.

One thought on “Robots

  1. 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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