There's no other animation studio out there like Blue Sky Studios. Ever since they debuted on the scene with "Ice Age" in 2002, they've made some very unique animated movie each one that's different than the last. They're easily one of my favorite animation studios and I always look forward to seeing what tricks they have up their sleeves. While they've made some questionable sequels that left little to be desired, I really like all of their original animated movies for how they look different from one another and the unique stories they tell. A good example of this is their sophomore film from 2005, "Robots". Growing up as a kid, this was an animated film I heavily enjoyed and watched constantly so I was very curious to see how well this film has held up after all these years. While I don't think it's a perfect film and can see more of its flaws, I still think this film has a certain charm and energy to it that Blue Sky films have.
In a world populated with robots, a young robot named Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor) dreams of being an inventor in the vein of his hero Bigweld (Mel Brooks). One day, hoping to help his dishwashing father Herb (Stanley Tucci) at work, his invention Wonderbot goes haywire and ends up destroying the kitchen of the restaurant his father works at and Rodney ends up fired from the restaurant though not before his father is insulted by the owner, Mr. Gunk. Wanting to help his father pay off the debt, Rodney moves to Robot City in hopes of working for Bigweld. To his horror, he discovers that Bigweld has disappeared from his own company and that a new boss, Ratchet (Greg Kinnear), is making a new line of upgrades caring more for profits than people's well being calling those who can't afford the upgrade, "outmodes". After getting thrown out of the company, Rodney encounters a group of outmode robots on the street frustrated at the current state of Bigweld's company. They include Fender (Robin Williams), his sister Piper (Amanda Bynes), and their friends Lugnut (Harland Williams), Crank (Drew Carey), and Diesel. Eventually, they discover that Ratchet is in cahoots with his mother Madame Gasket (Jim Broadbent) who runs the underground Chop Shop where robots are melted and turned into upgrades. Wanting to stop Ratchet from ruining robots, Rodney and his friends try to figure out how to stop Ratchet as well as finding the vanished Bigweld.
I will concede that there are a lot of flaws in this film. This is not a perfect film and it's also not the most original animated movie out there, but there's just a certain appeal to this film that I just really enjoy about it. It's easily one of Blue Sky's most distinct animated movies and I feel that's one reason why it really stands out from the crowd. Director Chris Wedge really took what he learned from "Ice Age" and decided to up the fun resulting in a very enjoyable animated film. For an animated movie, this story is easily not one of the most original. We've seen the story of a hero taking down a greedy boss of a company and fighting for what's right and this film does follow that storyline to a tee. Another problem with the story is that it's not clear how much time has passed throughout the film. I can't tell if it's been months or days in the film and it's a little confusing. Though I think the one aspect of the story that really keeps it afloat is how inventive the film is. There's a lot to be found in a world populated by robots and this film takes advantage of it. The world feels real and one you want to take a look around and explore and also feels lived in. It feels like a world that's always existed and that's the biggest plus a film like this can get. I also admire the charm and humor it has. It's a very fun animated movie that is perfect just for a fun time and I think most of the comedy in this film is the big reason why. There's a lot of clever jokes in there and I just couldn't help but laugh at some of the silly puns that were in here. While not all the jokes land and some go on for a bit too long, most worked for me. It also helps that the pacing is also excellent and doesn't have a moment that drags or feels slow. It also builds to a fantastic third act that had so many hilarious moments and a memorable climax that's hard to forget. As far as the animation goes, it has aged phenomenally well. Like I previously stated, this was the second animated film from Blue Sky and while "Ice Age" hasn't aged the best, this film absolutely has. This is easily the best looking animated movie of 2005 and I'm amazed at just how good it still looks. The world feels both shiny and new while also feeling rusty and lived in and it really benefits from the exceptional character and world designs from art director William Joyce. I'm a huge fan of his work and this easily is his some of his best work. I was just amazed at how beautifully crafted this animation still looks. Granted, there are a few times where the motion smear effect hasn't rendered well as I could see some unrendered pixels when objects or characters move too fast, but that's honestly a nitpick. This animation has aged like fine wine. As far as the characters go, I really admire most of them. Rodney is a very good protagonist and I really admire his passion and goal. Though I think his relationship with his parents was the aspect of him I admire most. The first few minutes show him growing up and I really loved it. A moment that really stood out was when Herb took him to his job of being a dishwasher at the restaurant. While to any other kid this might seem mediocre especially after Herb told him about Bigweld, but Rodney looks in awe at his father's job. I really loved that moment. The only aspect of Rodney I didn't particularly care for was his relationship with a Bigweld employee, Cappy (Halle Berry). It felt forced and thrown in at the last minute and wasn't developed in the slightest. I think the writers shouldn't have put it in. I also thought the other characters were fun. Fender was absolutely hilarious and benefited from having hilarious comedy by the late Robin Williams and the other outmode friends, while underdeveloped, were fun and had their moments. The villains were goofy fun as well. It's not always where you see a villain being evil and over the top, but this film takes advantage of it and I did have a good time watching them.
That's how I describe watching "Robots" as well. It was a good time. The story while not the most original benefits from its charm and appeal, the animation is fantastic and has aged very well, and the characters are all likable and are fun. This was a fun animated film and I do recommend watching it for a good time. It's not the most perfect film, but it doesn't need to be. It's a film that shines in its own special ways.