Last night I took the kids to see "Robots". The kids loved it, but I think I loved it even more. I surely laughed more than the kids did, not because of "adult" references (those were very few), but because many cultural references go way back to the movies I saw when I was a kid. And there are cultural references galore, on the order of three per second. I will have to get the DVD when it comes out in order to watch it several more times so I can catch them all.
The most obvious, and repeated, references were to "Wizard of Oz" and "Star Wars". Most were more subtle, I think, for instance "Lord of the Rings" and "Metropolis". Reviewers think that the "Singing in the Oil" scene is homage to the old "Singing in the Rain" movie, but I think they are missing the boat here. I believe that the reference is to the similar scene in Woody Allen's "Everyone Says I Love You". Also, I have a feeling that they are also self-referencing to some recent cartoons (including their own), like "Shrek" and "Jimmy Neutron". I can't believe they missed the opportunity, using the character of Auntie Fanny, to insert at least a few notes of the "Big Butts" song - do they think that "Shrek I" appearance is enough?
Since it is in vogue these days to analyze movies through the political lens, I guess this one is squarely Progressive - it is about a revolution of the poor against the greedy Corporation after all. And, since in Robot City the Corporation is the only institution with power (i.e., Government), the decision to stop producing spare parts (expensive upgrades are the only option) is tantamount to eliminating health-care for the poor.
The most memorable scene in the movie is the long sequence, early in the movie, when the young robot travels from the train station to the headquarters of the Corporation. It is an amazing Rube Goldberg machine made up of pinball elements and scary fairgrounds rides - not something seen in movies to date: absolutely breathtaking. Oh, and I LOVE Rube Goldberg machines. I am still trying to figure out how to use a Rube Goldberg metaphor for something connected to politics, just for the fun of it.