Dec 27, 2007

[Movies] Meet the Robinsons

Meet the RobinsonsFor our Christmas get-together, the family got into playing Disney Scene It?, which was pretty fun. Beyond establishing myself as a certified Disney geek as well, it got me wanting to see certain Disney movies that had somehow warranted several questions in the game despite my not having seen them before.

Top of my list was Meet the Robinsons, a pretty fun computer animated film that comes from that somewhat manky period in Disney's history when they were trying to negotiate with Pixar, which was trying to break away from the film studio. It's not one of their best works, but given how it chose to play around with concepts like child inventors and time travel, I certainly appreciated it.

Meet the Robinsons follows the story of an orphan named Lewis who is obsessed with making the world better through strange and unusual inventions like a hat that can toast bread and apply peanut butter and jelly in precisely the correct portions. Unfortunately, most of inventions tend to result in failure and this continually disheartens the boy along with his inability to attract foster parents interested in adopting him.

Things change when a mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson enters the picture and claims to have come from the future in search of the "bowler hat guy" who has stolen a time machine. This kicks of Lewis and Wilbur's adventure together as they travel across time in pursuit of the thief while trying to help Lewis regain his confidence as an inventor and perhaps discover the identity of his mother.

Unlike the Pixar movies, whose humor tends to work on many different levels, this movie feels as first and foremost, a children's story and doesn't lose focus of that fact. Sure, there are a number of attempts at cross-generational humor here and there but it never quite hits with the same level of impact. At the same time, the quality of the animation is okay but not as crisp and smooth as the Pixar pieces, which is something I certainly noticed. Now more than ever I'm glad Disney and Pixar worked out their differences.

Given it's child-focus, the story can get a bit shallow at times and you'd wish for greater character development or perhaps more interesting scenes and sequences. Many times the movie feels a bit rushed instead of it feeling fast-paced and thus you kind of wish they spent more time on character and plot development and not from a nice "keep them wanting more" kind of mentality.

Things do tie up pretty neatly in the end, as should any story that involves time travel, and I have to admit the final montage came out pretty well and certainly had me smiling and feeling all warm and fuzzy.

This wasn't the greatest Disney cartoon around, but it does deserve its place in history, so to speak. I really think that it had a lot of potential and could have accomplished so much more but since they chose to end things as they did, it didn't get to achieve that. Let's just hope that the next non-Pixar releases do better, if only to prove that they can get by without the group.

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