the screening room

the backlot

the screening room
The Screening Room

This is one of those movies that you want to give a chance.  Maybe it'll be better than you think.  Maybe it'll be one of those movies that surprises you.  "Meet the Robinsons" isn't a Pixar production, nor is it something from the Shrek factory.  I'm not sure if it's something in between.  This is a movie that's just "kinda" there.     

It might be unfair to compare this movie about an orphan to a Pixar movie.  This wasn't made by Pixar, though Pixar alum John Lasseter had a hand in reshaping it.  This was supposed to bring Disney's computer animation studio into the big leagues.  Ironic to say that, since Disney essentially revived traditional animation back in the late-80s.  Disney hasn't had a streak of luck in making successful traditional or computer animated movies as of late.  The track record hasn't been stellar with "Treasure Planet" (2002), "Brother Bear" (2003), "Home On The Range" (2004) in the traditional animation realm.  Disney's had some success, if not for clever marketing, with "Chicken Little" (2005), but that's a standout amongst the creepy looking "Valiant" (2005) and "The Wild" (2006). 

Here we have "Meet The Robinsons," which is a tale of an orphan boy named Lewis (Jordan Fry/Daniel Hansen).  He's a nerdy little genius who likes to tinker with inventions, much to the dismay of his roommate, Goob (Matthew Josten), and his foster care guardian, Mildred (Angela Bassett).  All Lewis really wants is family and he eventually finds it in the far off wonderful world of the future.

A movie like "Meet The Robinsons" means well.  It does have an overly positive vibe to it.  The animation is good, though the humans still look funny to me.  Getting past the fact that it's another Disney attempt at computer animation is besides the point here.  The idea, the foundation, the reason for this film's existence relies on a poor story.  A story about an orphan is usually cause for concern.  Why is this?  You automatically set up the audience for a potentially depressing downer right off-the-bat.  The idea of seeing a little baby left on the doorstep of an orphanage is sad.  We know the kid is going to be lonely and we know that despite him being a good kid, he's not going to get a nice set of adoptive parents.  That's just the beginning of what's wrong with this movie.

The story gets more convoluted and cute once Lewis is taken into the future by "Jimmy Neutron" look-alike, Wilbur (Wesley Singerman).  The future is bright and clean and we're thrust into a world of choral music on the soundtrack.  People travel via Jetson-style hovercrafts and the buildings take on an art deco appearance.  But that's not the problem.  Lewis meets the Robinsons who are an eclectic group of weirdoes.  I would not, even on a day when my mood was relaxed and my mind was at ease, ever want to meet the Robinsons.  They're not nutty funny or quirky sweet.  They're just plain creepy.

The Robinsons consist of a superhero wannabe uncle (voiced by Adam West), an overweight guy who lays on a chair all day, a robot butler, singing frogs and too many other characters that I lost track of.  Some might say that these people, animals and robots could be a part of any family.  Everyone's got a quirky uncle or brother, right?  If these characters were in my family, I'd want out!

Had the Robinson family been more focused on just a few likable characters, the movie might have been something better.  Instead, we're given too many characters with really no purpose in the movie.  They're not even enjoyable enough to warrant countless toy spin offs.  The singing frogs, a mix of every stereotypical tough guy gangster we've seen, have no business in the film. 

The most obnoxious character is the Bowler Hat Guy (Stephen J. Anderson).  I don't say obnoxious in that he's painful to watch during the time he's on-screen.  He's not even a bad character.  He's the wrong bad guy for the wrong movie, and he's inept at villainy.  Anderson does a credible job in voicing Bowler Hat Guy.  He does have some funny lines, but the character is wrong for this movie. 
The mind behind "Meet The Robinsons" is children's author, William Joyce.  I'm familiar with some of his work from when my daughter was younger.  She used to watch his television show, "Rollie Polie Olie," which had a family of robots who were cute and quirky.  The show was aimed for the preschool set.  Imagine those times when grandparents swoon over a grandchild and make funny noises for 25 minutes straight.  That's what watching that show was like.  Those same happy and sweet qualities found their way into "Robots" (2005) and now "Meet The Robinsons."  Nothing wrong with characters who are positive and supportive.  Nearly everyone in "Robinsons" is perky and supportive of Lewis.  "You can do it!"  After awhile, it's like listening to a song from Up With People, or eating corn flakes with a pound of sugar poured on top.  Joyce, no doubt, does well with his books and visual media.  But one can only take so much positive reinforcement.      

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: Disney. All rights reserved.

Quick Glimpse



Sugary and kind of strange non-Pixar flick from Disney

Director: Stephen J. Anderson

Cast: Tom Selleck, Angela Bassett, Jordan Fry, Daniel Hanson


Deleted scenes, bonus features, games and music



Picture: Excellent
Sound: Excellent

Funny Tom Selleck gag

Tweens might rock out with the Jonas Bros. on the soundtrack

Aspect Ratio (1.78:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

October 23, 2007