Silicon Inferiority Complex
This is how stupid I am. I said to myself, waiting for Robots to start, that at least there won’t be any fart jokes. How can there be fart jokes? They’re robots. Robots don’t fart.
Silly me. Robots isn’t about robots — it’s about people who look like robots. (I knew, somewhere deep down, that this would be the case, and P.S., there are many fart jokes.) Rather trite people right out of a 1950s sitcom at that. “You’re the hand-
You can stop right there, you who are getting ready to dash off an angry email complaining that I’m looking for too much in what is supposed to be merely a nice, simple movie for kids. Fine, whatever, you win. I give up. This is a nice, simple movie for kids. But Toy Story was supposedly a kids’ movie too, and there the characters were, well, toyish, had toy motivations and toy dreams and toy nightmares — they weren’t just people wearing toy veneers. But fine, whatever, you win. Robots is a dazzling visual spectacle that will delight children of all ages. I guess I’m the only one who wonders why as much care and cleverness can’t go into the script and the characters and the plot as go in to those dazzling visuals.
All right already: Yes, Ewan McGregor (Young Adam, Big Fish) is totally adorable even animated as a (not) robot named Rodney Copperbottom, who just wants to find fame and fortune in the big city. But dammit, I just can’t get past this: Why the hell is the robot “big city” named Robot City? It’s bizarre. It’s as if New York were named Human City. And while we’re asking: Why would a robot couple who wanted to reproduce — like, say, Rodney’s parents (the voices of Stanley Tucci: Shall We Dance?, The Core, and Dianne Wiest: I Am Sam, Practical Magic) — build a baby-
Sorry, I forgot: Robots is a dazzling visual spectacle that will delight children of all ages.
But no, I’ve gotta say this: The inevitable conclusion is that humans were once in the picture and have been removed from it. There’s something dark and apocalyptic in the Robots backstory. It’s as if Keanu Reeves and/
Okay, okay: Robots is a dazzling visual spectacle that will delight children of all ages.
But you know what’s really ironic? The bad guy here, a corporate overlord — because The Corporation endures even unto the silicon future — called Ratchet (the voice of Greg Kinnear: Godsend, Someone Like You), well, he’s the bad guy because he’s come up with a scheme to make money while forcing everyone to conform. (It’s too much to get in to, but suffice to say that a plea for originality from a film this derivative — it steals from everything from Metropolis and The Wizard of Oz to The Lord of the Rings and Lucas’s CGI-
The irony? Even before Ratchet came along, all these metal people were already denying their true selves — their entire society appears to be based upon a refusal to accept who they really are. (Why would a society of robots have metal detectors unless they were all suffering from a deep loathing of their own bodies?) So I say: Throw off the shackles of artificial biology, my robotic brothers and sisters! Embrace your inner machine! Release your inner Bender! Kiss his shiny metal butt!