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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

(Photo by Blue Sky Studios, TM and , 2005, Twentieth Century Fox, all rights reserved.)

photo caption:
CAN YOU BELIEVE THE WAY THESE PEOPLE DRIVE?: Rodney Copperbottom (left, voice by Ewan MacGregor) and Fender (voice by Robin Williams) take a harrowing ride on Robot City's Crosstown Express. end caption.

Robots: Robin Williams Steals the Show in Futuristic Animated Adventure

Review by Kam Williams

In 2002, Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha co-directed Ice Age, a charming animated adventure revolving around prehistoric creatures which included a woolly mammoth, a sloth and saber-toothed tigers. They have collaborated on another computer-generated family film that is set in the future in a world inhabited entirely by robots.

The filmmakers assembled a talented cast of voices for the animated characters that includes Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Mel Brooks, Dianne Wiest, Robin Williams, James Earl Jones, and Greg Kinnear. The movie also features the distinct voices of well-known character actors Paul Giamatti, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Coolidge, Ewan McGregor, and Dan Hedaya; as well as popular network TV icons Drew Carey, Amanda Bynes, Al Roker, Jay Leno, Carson Daly, D.L. Hughley, Jamie Kennedy, Conan O'Brien, and Terry Bradshaw.

Out of the cacophony of all these colorful accents competing for attention, it is Robin Williams' trademark stream-of-consciousness which emerges as the driving force for the film. In accordance with the current formula for animated films made for children, the hero is on an epic journey accompanied by a scene-stealing, wisecracking sidekick. Shrek had Eddie Murphy as his tag-along donkey; Finding Nemo had Ellen DeGeneres as a forgetful fish; The Emperor's New Groove had David Spade as a llama; Billy Crystal performed the same sort of function in Monsters' Inc.; and Will Smith was in Shark Tale.

The story starts in Rivet Town where an enterprising robot named Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor), inspired by his idol, Bigweld (Mel Brooks), bids his parents farewell, and sets out for Robot City to find work as an apprentice at Bigweld's factory.

Unbeknownst to Rodney, Phineas T. Ratchet ( Greg Kinnear) has wrested control of the company from Bigweld, in order to carry out a diabolical plot to maximize profits by no longer manufacturing spare robot parts. Mandatory upgrades, instead of repairs, will spell doom for most of the aging robot kingdom.

Out of a job, Rodney is befriended by Fender (Robin Williams), leader of the Rusties, a renegade gang that hangs out on the outskirts of town. Can these almost obsolete mechanical beings team-up to change the course of history before they all end up on the scrap heap?

Children will appreciate the realistic animation, and their parents will enjoy the allusions to The Wizard of Oz, Singing in the Rain, James Bond, Analyze This, Jaws, and Road Trip.

The picture has few product placements, which is a departure from the norm for children's fare. It is welcomed, since we've come to expect children's movies to be laced with cross promotions and sales pitches.

Very Good (3 stars). Rated PG for mild epithets and suggestive humor. Running time: 90 minutes. Distributor: 20th Century Fox.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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