surface, Meet the Robinsons looks as inventive as its
protagonist, Lewis. Based on a picture book, A
Day with Wilbur Robinson,
by the brilliant and probably crazy William Joyce, the film
captures the wild visuals of Joyce quite handily. But the
book didn't have to make sense of all of its pictures, each
page exploding with fun and nonsense.
something more from a Disney film, especially in this age
of Pixar. A story needs to have heart, and director Stephen
J. Anderson struggles mightily to give Meet the Robinsons
that very thing. With all the stuff going on in his source
material, though, it's like trying to juggle twelve angry
kittens while swimming.
Lewis wants what all movie orphans want: to find his true
family. Frighteningly brilliant, he keeps scaring off potential
adoptive parents with new devices that go awry at crucial
moments. After counseling with the orphanage director Mildred
(Angela Bassett), Lewis decides that he has to recapture the
memory of who his actual mother is. Little does he know that
that quest may change the world.
fair, neither do we really understand why, because before
Lewis knows it, his invention is being sabotaged and he's
dragged to the future by the hyper-active and strangely secretive
Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman). There the movie dives
in to Joyce's visuals, and sharp-eyed kids will pick up on
clues that Anderson laid out in the first act.
make much sense, but it is fun. Perhaps wisely for the thinness
of his story, Anderson doesn't allow much time to breathe
and try to connect everything up - because a lot of it is
random. Anything added to the original imagery, like the film's
villain The Bowler Hat Guy (Anderson himself), seems weak
the trailers, any smart film viewer has figured out this film's
plot twist. While that doesn't have to be a weakness, Anderson
directs as if it's going to be a brilliant last-minute revelation.
It does have a little pay-off for older viewers, with a good
in-joke voice casting.
the script, written by almost everybody the studio could drag
in, gives Anderson some visual gag time, it works pretty well.
Again, he's working from some choice visual material, but
he also knows how to stage physical comedy. Out of nowhere,
the movie turns into a ridiculous kung fu movie involving
a meatball cannon (please, don't question, just want one),
and it's charming. Singing frogs, incompentent T-Rex assassins
and even the horribly proportioned Bowler Hat Guy all have
some great bits.
soon as things turn to exposition, the film starts dragging.
Mainly, it's because the only thing they can really explain
is that plot twist, and the exposition spends as much time
as possible trying to keep us from figuring it out. Like last
year's Santa Clause 3, the script also promises a dystopian
alternate reality, then quickly dispatches it before anyone
can really register or enjoy (?) it.
Anderson does pull out some great voice work. Not the least
of which is his own as Bowler Hat Guy. He's funny. As a prissy
robot, Harland Williams struggles to not be Martin Short or
Robin Williams. Then, out of nowhere, comes Adam West as a
superhero-pizza delivery guy. Thank you, Stephen J. Anderson.
It doesn't make much sense, but West is funny.
kids are going to love it, especially in Disney 3-D. Anderson
only makes a couple of nods to that process, trusting the
majority of the film to just storytelling. Okay, so maybe
he could have had a couple more 3-D effects. As it is, the
cool factor almost covers the desperation to find a center.