Even with its over-the-top, too-fuzzy storyline, “Robots” is a film that everyone can enjoy for one reason: Robin Williams. Each time the movie starts to resemble a bad attempt to capture the heartfelt compassion of “Finding Nemo” or “The Lion King,” Williams’s walking junk pile, Fender, dutifully delivers a quirky, edgy punchline to save the film from obscurity. Through it all, “Robots” keeps it together and has become the latest addition to the quickly growing canon of CGI classics.

None of the original film’s magic is lost on DVD. The sappy-but-comedic story of Rodney Copperbottom’s (voiced by an unaccented Ewan McGregor) journey to the big city to become somebody and live up to the film’s tagline (“You can shine no matter what you’re made of”), is well suited to repeat viewings with the family. The brilliant, colorful backgrounds stand out, even on the small screen, and the meticulously designed characters each have their own special quirks and idiosyncrasies. The story, though spread a little too thin, is still bearable, thanks to Fender’s many quips, some of which could be missed in the initial viewing.

Though the movie is excellent, the bad special features (“upgrades,” in robot terms), are sure to disappoint all but the most avid fans. The biggest advertised feature is “Aunt Fanny’s Tour of Booty,” a piece showing a brief tour of Robot City. It’s a colossal disappointment. Aunt Fanny, (Jennifer Coolidge, TV’s “Joey”) is the only character who talks, and she’s hardly an entertaining presence. Though walking fire hydrant Fender is present, he doesn’t say a word, meaning the featurette misses out on the Williams charm that kept the original film alive.

Other features are disappointing, too. “Robot Arcade” features inane activities that no one over the age of three could possibly enjoy. The deleted scenes are so few and done with such asinine laziness that most are not only unfinished, but at times not even animated at all. The director and producer’s commentaries are also uncalled for; they only show how little thought and organization the filmmakers put into this project. The cast interviews are decent, though once again, too little time is given to Williams and too much is given to the once-again-Scottish McGregor.

The “Robots” DVD is an urgent call to end the obscene requirement that studios include “special” features on every single film released on DVD. The extra material here is embarrassingly bare, and the film would have been better off with just the feature and some interviews. Still, because “Robots” itself is fun, the DVD is worth it.


Film: 3-1/2 stars 

Pictures/Sound: 4 stars 

Features: 2 stars 

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