Friday, February 13, 2009

Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Director: Stephen J. Anderson
Cast: Angela Bassett, Nicole Sullivan, Laurie Metcalf, Tom Kenney, Harland Williams, Adam West, Tom Selleck
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 95 min.
Score: 9 out of 10
"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
- Walt Disney
The above quote runs at the end of the film just before the credits begin and it not only gives weight to the overall message of the film itself, it also provides a mission statement for the next generation of storytellers who are now working at Walt Disney Animation Studios under the guidance of John Lasseter. For those of you that don't know (and shame on you if you don't), John Lasseter is the main driving force behind Pixar and was the director of the first Toy Story film. It is my feeling that if Walt Disney could have choosen anyone in Hollywood today to take on the mantle of being the guiding hand behind Disney Animation it would be him.

Meet the Robinsons is loosely based on the the short novel A Day With Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce and follows the adventures and misadventures of a 12 year-old orphan inventor named Lewis and his time traveler companion Wilbur Robinson. Because of Lewis' nerdiness and a penchant for failed inventions he has a bit of trouble getting adopted. With his latest failed adoption meeting the classic orphan crisis occurs where he asks the question, "who was my mother and why did she give me up?" Spurred on by the knowledge that he saw her as an infant and he need only extract those long gone memories to find out who she is, Louis invents a memory scanner. He really believes that this time he has finally gotten one right and he carts his triumph off to the school science fair. He soon runs into Wilbur who spins a tale of time travel and a man in a bowler hat who is out to sabotage his invention.

The movie is sweet without being saccharine and silly without being stupid. All of the voice acting is first rate and the oddball characters are all appropriately fleshed out based on their place in the story. The real highlight amongst them is the villain who is referred to throughout the film simply as the Bowler Hat Guy. He will go down in the pantheon of Disney villains as one of the most inept and entertaining (2nd only to Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove).

I did not see this film when it was in the theater, nor did I rent it right away when it was released on DVD or Blu-Ray, however having a 3 year-old I have to admit that since first showing her this movie this past summer I have seen it almost a dozen times. It has yet to get old and it still makes me laugh and I won't lie, the ending chokes me up a bit.

As I stated early in this review Meet the Robinsons holds a real tangible lesson... We learn, along side Lewis, that life is not truly measured by how many times we succeed, but by how many times we fail and yet still manage to get back up, dust ourselves off and... keep moving forward.

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