The Disney Company has been through a lot in the last five years, what with the backstage scandal of former CEO Michael Eisner’s departure to the dissolve of traditional animation. In recent years, with the acquisition of the PIXAR Corporation Disney is slowly returning to its roots. Meet the Robinsons is one of those signs of a return to traditional ideals, behind all the flashy CGI it really is a movie with heart much like the Disney films of old. While it doesn’t show any signs of traditional animation coming back, that is better left for Disney’s holiday film Enchanted, the story and adoration this film has definitely proves that Disney is returning.
Meet the Robinsons is about a young boy named Lewis, an orphan since birth all he wants to do is make an invention that works. When he decides to make a memory scanner that will help him find out what his mother looks like he gets mixed up in the affairs of Wilbur Robinson, a young boy who has to stop a man with a bowler hat from stealing Lewis’ invention. When the Bowler Hat Guy steals the invention anyway it is up to Wilbur and Lewis to stop him before he forever alters the future. All throughout Lewis starts to wonder if focusing too much on the past could destroy his plans for the future.
First and foremost, it was incredibly amazing showing a classic Mickey Mouse short before this film. While the idea of shorts is usually reserved for PIXAR films, this movie showed a classic Disney cartoon, Boat Builders. I was amazed to watch this, at 18 I had never seen a Mickey Mouse short played on the big screen and for me it was quite the experience. I was a little miffed though that the children behind me had no idea what was going on and just wanted to get to the movie. And this is where Meet the Robinsons truly seems to shine; this film really shows that Disney is hell-bent on returning to their roots, showing Americans what Disney truly used to be. The story of a young orphan trying to discover his family is heartwarming and interesting. I never felt bored while watching this movie. While their isn’t a whole lot of action and it’s very talky it reminded me of classic films like The Little Mermaid or Aladdin, Disney films that really rely on story and characters to get the point across. While various other critics have cited that the animation used in the movie seems hokey, I thought it was full of whimsy, it seemed to remind me more than once of the color schemes and building shapes of Disneyland. In the beginning Lewis’ world is very drab, full of dark colors and straight lines. When he goes to the future and sees the Robinson’s house it is full of rounded shapes and very bright, candy colors. I was totally absorbed by the color scheme and how everything was just bright and futuristic. The jokes are also very humorous, definite one-liners you can spout later on. The film also has a very unique twist to it, while I was able to get the overall twist of the film there are a couple more twists that I didn’t see coming that I thoroughly enjoyed. Also, bring some Kleenex; this is a tearjerker by the end.
While I did enjoy Meet the Robinsons for its old-school tactics I can see why various critics aren’t seeing its uniqueness. The jokes in the film are few and far-between, the film also doesn’t have a lot of action moments, it is very talkative and character driven. The kids that I saw this with started to get antsy by the end and that seems to be where the problem is, kids these days aren’t used to the story driven Disney, they’re used to the CGI, action Disney. While that is sad to me, Meet the Robinsons could have used a couple more jokes. Although with all the praise I’ve already given the movie these gripes didn’t lessen the appeal of the movie for me.
The voice acting is also what makes the movie. The two boys who were the voice of Lewis, Daniel Hansen and Jordan Fry, were very funny in their line delivery. But the true standouts for me were the voice talents of the director of this film Stephen Anderson and young Matthew Josten. Anderson plays the Bowler Hat Guy, our villain with menace and humor. His love for unicorns alone is enough to keep you rolling in your seat. Matthew Josten is hilarious as Lewis’ roommate Michael “Goob” Yagoobian, a baseball player who can’t get any sleep. Not only is the character drawn adorably but Josten’s voice adds so much innocence that you just love his character and want to see more.
While Meet the Robinsons probably won’t go down in the annals of Disney history as the movie that returned Disney to the forefront of family entertainment, it is a great movie in terms of heart and story. This is definitely a movie that parents and children can watch and enjoy together and it shows the wonders that Disney has up its sleeves for the future.