'Visually enthralling' adventure 'Meet the Robinsons' features cast of eccentric characters
The second 3D animated feature released by the non-Pixar unit of Walt Disney Pictures – the first was Chicken Run – Meet the Robinsons combines humor with inventive storytelling as it pulls us into a futuristic world filled with the unexpected.
This energetic and visually enthralling adventure is primarily aimed at a younger audience, but adults will occasionally applaud the film's witty goofiness.
Based on William Joyce's book A Day with Wilbur Robinson, the story follows 13-year-old Lewis (voiced by Daniel Hansen and Jordan Fry), a sharp-witted orphan whose passionate interest in designing clever inventions leaves him little time for useless meetings with potential adoptive parents. His latest gadget is the memory scanner, a device that can help him track down his real mother.
Unfortunately, before Lewis can show off his invention at the local science fair to find out what his mother looks like, the scanner is stolen by the vicious Bowler Hat Guy (Stephen J. Anderson) and his artificial hat Doris (Ethan Sandler).
Forward to the future
Rescue arrives in the form of the young Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman), a hyperactive brat who persuades Lewis that the only way to retrieve the machine is to travel to the future.
By meeting the Robinsons in the future, Lewis finds the family he never had. From a grandpa who wears his clothes the wrong way to a mother who teaches frogs how to sing, Meet the Robinsons features an array of hilarious, eccentric characters.
Directed by Stephen J. Anderson, who previously worked as artistic supervisor on The Emperor's Groove and Brother Bear, Meet the Robinsons cheerfully reminds you to “Keep moving forward.” In other words, people have a bright future ahead of them if they make the right decisions in the present.
Because of its numerous unexpected twists, the film avoids being simplistic even though it's clearly geared to younger filmgoers. That alone earns it some extra points. Animated flicks don't require 100 percent action and silliness to please children; the more complex the plot, the better the chances of reaching a wider audience.
Walt Disney nostalgia
The creative and technical staff at Disney Feature Animation did a remarkable job in bringing the world of Meet the Robinsons to life. The movie, in fact, looks gorgeous despite a sporadic excess of colors. (Reportedly, the Disney team got quite a bit of help from the Pixar team; John Lasseter is one of the film's executive producers.)
On the downside, Meet the Robinsons suffers from a slow first act. Though essential to the development of the story, the first 30 minutes or so lack pace. But as soon as Lewis meets the Robinsons, the fun begins and continues right until the end, with a nostalgic quote by Walt Disney himself.
© Franck Tabouring
Meet the Robinsons (2007).
Dir.: Stephen J. Anderson.
Scr.: John Bernstein. Michelle Spitz. Don Hall. Nathan Greno. Aurian Redson. Joe Mateo. Stephen J. Anderson. Based on the book A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce.
Voice Cast: Daniel Hansen. Jordan Fry. Wesley Singerman. Matthew Josten. Angela Bassett. Laurie Metcalf. Don Hall. Ethan Sandler. Stephen J. Anderson. Tom Selleck. Adam West. Nicole Sullivan.
Meet the Robinsons image: Walt Disney Pictures.
Meet the Robinsons voice cast info via the IMDb.