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Movie Review: Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons
Directed by Stephen J. Anderson
Written by Joe Bernstein, Michelle Bochner, Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Shirley Pierce from the novel by William Joyce

Disney got off to a rocky start, albeit a lucrative one, with their first digital cartoon minus Pixar with 2005’s Chicken Little.  Although it didn’t hit nearly the box office range of a Pixar flick, it showed, at the very least, they’d be able to stay afloat without them, even though the critical results were far from stellar (Disney, by the way, eventually secured Pixar anyway, for the tidy sum of $7.4 billion).

Meet the Robinsons is a step in the right direction, although with an army of screenwriters and some pacing issues, it can be a bit of a mess.  But after the horrid trailer, I was surprised at how well this film came out.

Lewis (Daniel Hansen) lives in an orphanage with his roommate Goob (Matthew Josten), both looked after by the loving Mildred (Angela Bassett).  He’s an inventor, and he believes that if he creates just the right thing, a loving couple will adopt him.  Unfortunately, his inventions have a way of turning potential parents off, and he approaches his 13th birthday losing all hope.  He figures that if he can find his mother again, she’ll want to take him back, and by creating a gadget that can extract old memories, he thinks he’ll be able to locate her.  He wants to try it out at an upcoming science fair.

At the fair, he’s close to finally succeeding, but the evil Bowler Hat Guy (voiced by director Anderson) sabotages his invention.  Another kid named Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman) claims to be from the future and tells Lewis they need to team together to stop BHG, who steals the memory device and whisks back to the future with it, hoping to make millions.  Fortunately for Wilbur and Lewis, BHG is a bit of a dummy, and doesn’t know how the invention works.

Lewis meets the Robinsons, who are an eclectic family, half Addams, half Looney Tunes.  As he gets cozy in the future, BHG tries to kidnap the boy so he can use him to figure out the memory device, but even BHG seems to be a puppet for a machine he calls Doris (Ethan Sandler), who might have even worse intentions for the invention.

Most seasoned viewers will be able to figure out what happens fairly early into this film, but that doesn’t matter much.  The movie has a good sense of comic timing, and even the annoying sections of the trailer are better in context.  As far as those pacing issues I mentioned, I think sometimes the film goes too fast; there are some sections that I felt could have been mined for more comedy.  But overall, this is another good family flick for 2007, in what may prove to be the genre’s golden year.

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