Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

This bright paint-box coloured children's film is full of wacky exuberance. If you throw Back to the Future Part II into a giant melting pot with Sky Captain And The World of Tomorrow and add a thick dollop of Robots eye-popping vistas, you'll get something that feels like this.

The script is homogenised - with six writers, you can bet it is! - but director Stephen J. Anderson keeps a tight rein on what it feels like to have the imagination of a child. We all remember the crazy ideas kids have before they're tempered with reality - this movie demonstrates this concept better than any I can think of in recent memory.

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In a sepia-toned prologue, baby Lewis is left on the doorstop of a New York orphanage. He grows up as a peerless inventor and looks a heckuva lot like Jonathan Lipnicki. He is a very sweet child, but has the knack for scaring off potential parents with his inventions. He loves tinkering and developing his outlandish ideas. After 136 failed potential parent meetings - he counted every one of them - Lewis (voiced by Jordan Fry and Daniel Hansen) begins to lose hope in finding a family.

Looking for a scrap of early childhood memory turns to obsession, and Lewis invents the story McGuffin - a memory scanner which attracts the attention of the Bowler-Hat Guy (Stephen J Anderson), and the mysterious Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman). Bowler-Hat makes off with the memory doohickie, and Lewis and Wilbur chase him back to the future. This is a future of a child's wildest fantasies, as far from tech-noir as one could possibly go without returning to Oz.

Plotwise, sure, this is derivative fluff, but it's also well-told, charming and entertaining.

New head of Disney Feature Animation and former Pixar maestro John Lasseter's work is clear - story is king. It may not have the impeccable flavour of Pixar's established classics, but more importantly, it works as well as it can given the pedigree. Heck, I had a lot more fun with Meet the Robinsons than last year's Pixar: the sacharrine and technically flawless Cars.

It may be a U-rated picture, but there are a few dark and intense moments, with a nightmarish alternate future - where the family briefly turn into mind-controlled zombies. There's plenty of humour and knowing wit that doesn't rely on pop-culture - I'm looking at you, Shrek! The bowler-hat wearing villain is helplessly inept and stupid, but is peerless in his delicious Dick Dastardly thicko-baddie characterisation, Rickman-esque posturing and overwrought sneering. He's not very threatening, but as a source of comedy, it's lovely.

High-tech, brilliantly crafted and old-fashioned - it's the year's best kids flick so far, and perfect Easter weekend fodder. Watch for the tie-in - a hilarious singing frog anti-mobile-phone ad playing before the trailers.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2007
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Meet the Robinsons packshot
A child inventor meets a mysterious man and goes on a time-travel adventure.
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Director: Stephen J Anderson

Writer: Jon Bernstein, Robert L Baird, Michelle Bochner, Daniel Gerson, Shirley Pierce, based on the book by William Joyce

Starring: Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Stephen J. Anderson, Wesley Singerman, Angela Bassett, Matthew Josten, John H H Ford, Dara McGarry, Tom Kenny, Laurie Metcalf, Don Hall, Paul Butcher, Tracey Miller-Zarneke

Year: 2007

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: USA


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