Meet the Robinsons Review
By Shawn McKenzie 04/21/2007
A hooded mother places a baby named Lewis on the steps of an orphanage, where the caretaker named Mildred (voice of Angela Bassett) takes him in. Twelve years later, Lewis (voice of Daniel Hansen & Jordan Fry) is almost 13 years old and is a genius inventor. Unfortunately, most of his inventions explode…which alienates potential adoptive parents and keeps his baseball-playing roommate Michael “Goob” Yagoobian (voice of Matthew Josten) from sleeping (his lack of sleep makes him lose a big game for his team.) Lewis decides to invent a memory scanner to be able to see an image of her from the past. He takes it to the science fair where Dr. Lucille Krunklehorn (voice of Laurie Metcalf)…a wired-up woman who has invented a coffee patch that is the equivalent of twelve cups of coffee…judges the inventions. It seems like everything is going okay, but the sinister-but-stupid Bowler Hat Guy (voice of Stephen John Anderson) has Doris (voice of Ethan Sandler)…a mechanized bowler hat who seems to be controlling BHG’s actions…mess with it so that it won’t work. BHG’s intention is to steal it and pass it off as his own invention. Lewis gets frustrated with the invention when it doesn’t work, but 13-year-old Wilbur Robinson (voice of Wesley Singerman), who claims to be a time cop from the future, comes to Lewis and tries to convince him to come back to the science fair and fix the machine. He is trying to correct a screw-up in the future when he accidentally allowed BHG to steal one of his always-busy inventor father Cornelius’ (Tom Selleck) two time machines (Wilbur left the garage door open by mistake.) Lewis doesn’t believe him, so Wilbur takes him to the future to prove that he is from the future. Lewis agrees to go back to the past and fix the memory scanner…but only if Wilbur will take him to the time that his mother abandoned him. Wilbur agrees, but they get into a fight and accidentally crash the time machine. They stash it in the Robinson mansion garage where Lewis attempts to fix the time machine and Wilbur tries to keep the rest of his family from seeing Lewis. Carl the robot (voice of Harland Williams) argues with Wilbur that he shouldn’t have brought Lewis with him. Meanwhile, Lewis is sucked through the house’s elevator, where he meets the rest of Wilbur’s odd family. They include Wilbur’s mom, Franny (voice of Nicole Sullivan)…the normal one. An octopus butler named Lefty (voice of Nathan Greno.) Grandpa Bud (also the voice of Stephen John Anderson), who wears his clothes backwards. His disco-dancing Grandma Lucille (also the voice of Laurie Metcalf.) Uncle Gaston (voice of Don Hall) shoots himself from a cannon to get ahead of Aunt Billie’s (voice of Kelly Hoover) life-size toy train. Cousin Tallulah (also the voice of Stephen John Anderson), who wears a skyscraper dress, is fighting with her jetpack-flying painter brother Laszlo (also the voice of Ethan Sandler.) Billie’s fat husband Joe just sits in his chair all day, while Uncle Art (voice of Adam West) delivers pizzas in a flying saucer and thinks that he is a superhero. Finally, we have Uncle Fritz (also the voice of Ethan Sandler), a middle-aged guy who’s wife is a hand puppet named Petunia (also the voice of Ethan Sandler.) While Lewis and Wilbur try to correct the space-time continuum, Lewis begins to see what it’s like to be a part of a real family…no matter how strange they are.
Meet the Robinsons proves that a Disney movie can be good without the Pixar stamp on it.
Based on on the characters and events in the 1990 illustrated children’s book A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce, the movie is the theatrical debut by director Stephen J. Anderson. Walt Disney Feature Animation produced it (as opposed to Pixar), and it feels like a Pixar movie. Other Disney-distributed computer-animated movies have looked impressive, but storywise, they weren’t very good. 2005’s Valiant and last year’s The Wild sucked, but it was probably because they weren’t produced by WDFA. Actually, the only other computer-animated movie produced by WDFA was 2005’s Chicken Little…a movie I really liked (even though other critics generally hated it.)
The reason I liked it is that…while I sort of saw where it was going in the plot halfway in…it was a fun movie. In fact, my girlfriend, whom I took to the screening, leaned over and told me that one character was probably going to do this specific thing in the movie (I don’t want to give you any spoilers)…which was just what I was thinking. I didn’t care about that though, because the humor and the interesting characters made up for it. Besides…though the story was predictable, it was still entertaining. My girlfriend’s niece has been talking about the T-Rex for weeks since seeing the trailers (my girlfriend has quoted the “I have a big head and little arms, I’m just not sure how well this plan was thought through” line a few times since herself.) The T-Rex, the Bowler Hat Guy, and Goob were my personal favorite characters, since they all elicited the biggest laughs.
One of the cool things about the movie was the fact that none of the lead characters were voiced by big stars. While I liked Chicken Little, I kept picturing “Scrubs’” Zach Braff voicing the title character. In this movie, I just saw the characters as characters, since I didn’t recognize the voices (the supporting characters…voiced by Oscar-nominated actress Bassett, Half Baked’s Williams, “MADtv’s” Sullivan, “Magnum P.I.’s” Selleck, and “Roseanne’s” Metcalf…are another matter.)
If you go to see the 3-D version (which I highly recommend), you will be treated to an awesome experience. The last time I saw a 3-D movie was 2005’s The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D, which was a headache-inducing event. I was afraid I would have to go through that same headache, but it used Real D Cinema, a new digital 3D stereoscopic projection technology. The glasses looked normal instead of those goofy cardboard glasses with the red and blue lenses, and they worked much better as well. Real D Cinema was used for Chicken Little as well as last year’s Monster House and the re-release of the 1993 movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. Robinsons will be shown on over 600 screens, making it the largest release so far using the Real D Cinema format. It is preceded by the 1953 Donald Duck/ Chip ‘n’ Dale short Working for Peanuts, also using the Real D Cinema format (though some theaters will be showing the 1938 Mickey Mouse short Boat Builders.)
While I still love Pixar, I’m starting to think that Disney’s in-house production company could realistically rival the computer-animated kingpin. Meet the Robinsons shows that Disney should have confidence in their creativity, and they don’t need other production companies to make their movies for them (other than Pixar of course.)
Get the Disney Interactive video game in seven formats:
Buy these items at
SEE THIS MOVIE!
Catch this movie at the theater if you can...
Wait until it comes out on video...
Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...
Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!