Okay, we know he’s become an easy target, but the fact remains: Robin Williams is annoying. Both his overreaching performances(serious and comedic) as an actor and his gratingly repetitive, embarrassing and unfunny “spontaneous” streams of consciousness on talk shows and in interviews are as painful to watch as a “Full House” marathon. And yet he continues to get work. The former mime and Mork from Ork lends his voice to the “street-smart Rustie” Fender in the new animated comedy, “Robots.” Which makes us ponder... who are the most annoying robots in film history?
The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951)
If you came from another planet to warn human beings that our violent nature is going to lead to our destruction, why, oh why would you bring along the biggest, most menacing looking robot as your sideman? Well, that’s just what Klaatu (Michael Rennie) does in this sci-fi classic. When a trigger happy soldier shoots the messenger, the looming garbage can of a robot, Gort goes on a li’l rampage in Washington DC, destroying the Capitol and causing a power outage! Whoo! How about practicing whatcha preach, Gort?
• V.I.N.CENT in “the Black Hole” (1979)
This bizarre little Disney sci-fi film features a number of weird robots (including some that feel the need to wear robes and one with a southern accent), but the most annoying is the “Vital Information Necessary CENTralized”, a floating trash compactor with dice for eyes, a peppermint disc on his head and the voice of Roddy MacDowell (how the mighty fell). V.I.N.CENT is one of those genre film abominations that was obviously designed for toy shelves more than the big screen. He’s as palatable as an Ewok (and that ain’t tasty!).
• Number 5 in “Short Circuit” (1986)
Okay, let’s just say that cute robots are inherently annoying. Any Twiki-esque mechanical munchkin with a funny voice and the facial features of a teddy bear would seem to be at odds with the functionality of robot design. I mean, who wants an adorable refrigerator? What’s that? Some of you do? Well, then, you’ll love Number 5, the killing machine turned robot hippie, a mechanical ET on speed. The only good thing about Number 5 is that he’s a much more naturalistic actor than his co-stars in this film, Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg.
• Ulysses in “Making Mr. Right” (1987)
Part of John Malkovich’s appeal is that he’s kinda creepy. It’s been the cornerstone of some of his best performances, in films such as “Dangerous Liasons,” “Mary Reilly” and of course, “Being John Malkovich.” It’s why he’s so miscast as Ulysses, the robotic “perfect man” in this very 80’s romantic comedy. Ulysses is the quintessential sensitive man, but with his mane of blonde hair, lisp and glassy stare, Malkovich makes him feel more like a serial killer! Wasn’t Patrick Swayze available? Mickey Rourke?
Annoying ‘bots all, but the worst is probably yet to come, especially if “Robots” is a huge hit. Coming soon to a multiplex near you! Lindsay Lohan in “Small Wonder: the Motion Picture!” John Woo’s remake of “Transformers: the Movie!” And Ruben Studdard makes his big screen debut in “The Adventures of Roomba!”
Hey, stranger things have happened. After all, they made “Patch Adams.”
POSTSCRIPT, October 2010:
Oh, hey, hooray, Transformers made it to the big screen. Ahem.
ORIGINALLY POSTED in REWIND on MTV.COM, March 2005