**/**** Image A- Sound B+ Extras C+
screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire and Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel
directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha
by Walter Chaw Surprisingly, perhaps shockingly, Robots isn't terrible, even though it's a product of the same chowderheads behind Ice Age and even though it's your basic ramshackle kid's flick/self-esteem trope (complete with closing musical number) upon which the Shrek franchise has founded a scatological empire. What works in its favour is its attention to the little details of a world that, without explanation, is completely populated by robots that employ other robots in specialized, superfluous functions. What works against it is the lack of a firm grip on Robin Williams's bridle (resulting in a bunch of gay jokes that weren't funny when Milton Berle was doing them half a century ago), a weak reliance on pop cultural in-jokes that are already dated (Britney Spears? C'mon--why not Ricky Martin?), and the usual roster of fart and diarrhea jokes, which aren't exactly a calling card for immortality. The appropriately-named Blue Sky animation studio promises a lot with its giant mainframes, but it can't deliver anything beyond a brilliant opening sequence, a Tom Waits song (like Shrek 2), and then a lot of the same passionless, heartless idiotspeak that passes for children's fare nowadays.