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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Robots has cartoon-style peril and violence with some thrill-ride-ish special effects. There's a little potty language ("booty," "fanny") plus some potty jokes, including an extended fart joke sequence. There's also some mild sexual humor, including jokes about cross-dressing and "fixing" a dog. Great messages abound about following your dreams and not giving up.
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What's the story?
ROBOTS takes place in an all-mechanical world. Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor) arrives after 12 hours of labor -- that's how long it takes his robot parents too assemble him from a kit. They are loving and devoted but not wealthy. As Rodney grows, he gets new hand-me-down parts, including one embarrassing year with a torso that once belonged to a teenaged girl cousin. Rodney dreams of being an inventor and making life better and easier. His hero is Bigweld (Mel Brooks), who urges everyone to come up with ideas to solve problems. But Bigweld is replaced by Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), the new president of Bigweld industries. Ratchet decides the company will no longer provide parts to fix old robots. They will make money by making perfectly good robots feel bad about themselves so that they will order unnecessary upgrades. Their slogan will be, "Why be you when you can be new?" So Rodney and his friends have to find a way to bring back Bigweld and make the world safe for the mutts and oddballs, especially the ones with a dream.
Is it any good?
Just like its endearing hero Rodney, this movie is assembled from hand-me-down parts (like its classic underdog story), but it has tons of heart. This helps transform it into something irresistibly fresh and downright adorable. Robots is brilliantly imagined by illustrator William Joyce, and every single shot is filled with fabulously imaginative detail, every bit of it adorably witty, wonderfully fantastic, and perfectly logical.
The movie has excitement, snappy wisecracks, and music that will make you want to get up and dance. As often in animation, the actors provide pleasant but not very distinctive voices and the comedians steal the show. Robin Williams, Brooks, and Jennifer Coolidge are the highlights. But the star here is the design, as much a part of the story as the plot and the characters. It all comes together in a story that works on every level, with something for every age, with silly humor, clever puns, sly satire, endearing characters, and, rarest of all, a story that is not just heartwarming but meaningful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the great messages in Robots of not giving up and following your dreams. What other movies have characters that are both resilient and big dreamers?
How do Rodney's and Ratchet's ideas about helping people differ? Why doesn't Crank want to try and what changes his mind? What's the difference between Bigweld's and Ratchet's views on what a corporation should do?
Why did Rodney say that the most important thing his parents gave him was believing in him? Who can you help by believing in them?
Families might like to learn about the history of inventions and becoming an inventor. If you could be an inventor like Rodney, what would you like to invent?
- In theaters: March 11, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: September 27, 2005
- Cast: Amanda Bynes, Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry
- Director: Chris Wedge
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Robots
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some brief language and suggestive humor.
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