For this week’s in class assignment, we have been asked to watch ANY film we want! Now that’s pretty awesome! The film I chose to watch was “Robots” (2005). I thought that a throwback to one of my childhood films would be interesting, and Robots is one of those kids films with more adult connotative themes beneath its denoted ‘robo adventure’ surface.
The central character of the film is Rodney Copperbottom, son of Herb and Lydia Copperbottom. Hailing from Rivet Town, Rodney aspires to become an inventor who can “make the world a better place”. We follow this turquoise, adolescent robot on a journey of heroism, discovery, conflict and friendship.
Rodney’s main characteristics are that he is: ambitious, caring, humble, inventive, loyal, good. He is the protagonist of his o
wn adventure, he is seen as the ‘hero’ character of the film.
Using Vogler’s Hero Cycle, I will now identify the main parts of the hero’s journey that band together and create the rounded story that is Robots!
1. The ordinary world: Rivet Town. Place of birth and upbringing; lower to middle-class status. This is depicted through shots of the town/townspeople; their occupations (Rodney’s father is a dishwasher for a restaurant) and lifestyles. Town and its people are also either rusty, have second-hand parts, use spare parts, or are of low to mid grade metals/materials.
2. The call to adventure: Rodney dreamt of becoming an inventor from a young age. His idol is a one Mr. Bigweld (master inventor and owner of Bigweld industries). Over the years, Rodney persists in creating ‘Wonderbot’, a wee help-bot for his ageing fathers dishwashing career. When Wonderbot malfunctions and causes a great raucous; the father is fired from his job. Rodney then feels compelled to travel into Robot City in order to get a job, and help his father pay for the damages made to the restaurant.
3. Refusal of the call: Upon leaving at the train station, Rodney’s mother and father appear. His mother insists that Rodney doesn’t leave for Robot City; seeking this affirmation from her husband. However, Mr. Copperbottom tells his son to ‘follow his dream’ and go.
4. Meeting the mentor: I feel that Rodney is blessed with two mentors; his father and Mr.Bigweld. Back home, it was his father to whom taught him how to be himself and to follow his dream. As a child, Rodney was also exposed to Bigweld and his invention company “Bigweld Industries” through television. Bigweld’s positive inspirational quotes and idealisms, as well as his father, are what spurred Rodeny’s creative/inventive dreams. His father later gives him more wise advice through a phone call at the train station “I know it isn’t easy Rodney, but a dream that you don’t fight can haunt you for the rest of your life. Its up to you son.” This pushes Rodney into the final spurt of action along with his friends.
5. Crossing the threshold: Rodney departs on the train to Robot City; a place of upper class status as depicted through shiny chrome architecture, business industry and robots with upgraded chrome (high quality) parts. Rodney enters Bigweld Industries for the first time.
6. Test, allies, enemies: Rodney meets Fender, who becomes his temporary guide around the city. Rodney enters Bigweld Industries only to find that things are not as they should be; Bigweld is gone and in his place stands Ratchet. Rodney and his invention go uncared for, his is kicked out by security. For all the smart people in the room, we would notice that Cappy, Ratchets secretary, doesn’t side with his ideals and is therefore most likely to become a friend of Rodney’s later on. Rodney then meets Fender once more; he introduces Rodney to his crew (the Rusties) and hooks him up with a place to stay (Aunt Fanny’s house).
*I find that the approach and the ordeal intermingle in specific parts*
7. The approach: Part 1: Rodney is told that Bigweld has been replaced by Ratchet; a younger male robot (now CEO of Bigweld Industries). Ratchets plan is to work alongside his deranged mother by discontinuing the making of spare parts in order to push his new line of ‘upgrades’, body parts that are shiny and high end. Their goal is to rid what is seen as old and outdated. Street sweeper machines are allocated to suck up old parts, outdated robots and junk- all to which are sent off to what is known as the ‘Chop Shop’. This is where the parts are melted down and turned into new metal used to make the upgrades. Part 2: Wonderbot notifies Rodney and the Rusties with a poster about the upcoming Bigweld Ball. Rodney realises this is his chance to find Bigweld and try to save robot kind so to speak. Part 3: Cappy takes Rodney to Bigwelds home. Rodney’s visit challenges Bigweld’s current situation and provokes him into action.
8. The ordeal: part 1: Many ordinary robots cannot afford to upgrade their parts and/or like themselves for who they are, and strongly believe in the ethos that Bigweld once pushed: “You can shine no matter what you’re made of.” Rodney becomes the hero amongst the ordinary robots as he helps to fix their broken parts so that they can live another day. Ratchet and his mother catch wind of this and seek to stop him. Part 2: Rodney discovers in a letter from home that his father is becoming outdated and there is little hope for his survival. He sees many robots in need of help and knows that Bigweld is the only answer to their problems. Part 3: Bigweld doesn’t attend ball, Rodney is escorted out by Cappy. Fender takes his new lady friend home, only to be sucked up by a street sweeper. Part 4: Fender escapes, meets up with Rodney, Cappy and friends at the train station. Bigweld attempts to take back control of his company, gets sent to Chop Shop. Friends join forces to fight together against Ratchet, his mother and their Chop Shop.
9. The reward: Result! Rodney’s heroism inspired his friends and the ordinary robot townsmen into action; they defeat Ratchet and his evil mother. Bigweld opens his company back up to the public with his original ethos and idealism of making the world a better place for all types of robots.
10. The road back: Firstly Rodney returns home to Rivet Town with Bigweld, to spread the news in person to his parents and the ‘everyman’ that all is well again.
11. The resurrection: Rodney becomes the right hand man and eventual successor of Bigweld and the company. Robots everywhere are restored to their original rights to be themselves no matter what status they orientate from.
12. Return with the elixir: Mr. Copperbottom receives brand new spare parts so that he may continue living and working well. Rodney thanks his father for believing in him always, and gives him a brand new trumbone for he always wanted to be a musician. The town celebrate with an awesome street dance party.
Sorry this is so long, maybe I got carried away in terms of detail…oh well! It was a good movie. I enjoyed this exercise because it really demonstrates the structure of film and their stories. It is interesting to see that a lot of the story is often within the climax and towards the end too. I love that this film is actually quite dystopian and contains quite a darker connotative storyline to it, yet is reflected upon with a denotive surface of crazy, colourful robots trying to make the world a better place.