Meet the Robinsons – Review

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Angela Bassett……….Mildred (voice)
Daniel Hansen……….Lewis (voice)
Jordan Fry……….Lewis (voice)
Matthew Josten……….Michael “Goob” Yagoobian (voice)

It’s hard to argue with animation; it’s lush, colorful, and simple. Animation is anything but simple nowadays, it seems, as pop culture references, blink and you missed it sight gags, and an overload of ideas take up all the space where a plot should go. At least Meet the Robinsons gives a coherent storyline a try, if one can call the concept of time travel coherent.

The film offers a basic and somewhat unique glimpse into the life of an orphan prodigy, Lewis (voices of Daniel Hansen and Jordan Fry), before it takes some twists and turns from Back to the Future. Lewis is a wannabe inventor with one problem. His wacky inventions show promise but all ultimately fail. They also do little in the way of getting him adopted; this is a fact that irks Lewis’ roommate Goob (Matthew Josten) to the point of sleep deprivation.

The movie toys with the odd couple premise long enough before completely switching gears; it doesn’t make the transition any less jarring. A convoluted string of events unfolds at the Science Fair and Lewis somehow ends up in the future. To say more would give away practically the entire plot as well as any enjoyment from Meet the Robinsons as well. Any amusement from the film must be had at the expense of thinking about plot.

To be fair, time travel is a tough gimmick to use for story advancement. One would be prudent, however, to let the bizarre Robinson family antics wash over them. One particularly interesting set piece turns into a scene out of a Samurai film shown on a local television network involving a meat cannon.

Lewis ponders this as he falls in love with his surrogate family. The necessity of time travel in a film about finding one’s self-worth is hard to stomach, though. It seems the only rule about modern cartoons is that if you can think it and draw it, or computer-generate the image, then it must find its way into the final cut. Too bad not enough attention was paid to making the film entertaining, as so many great concepts and jokes are tossed at the wayside. Even a complete stop in the middle of the movie, specifically taken to help the audience figure out what is going on, does not help.

It would be easy to suggest that the two directions the movie tries to go in are mutually exclusive, but the Back to the Future juggled time travel and family comedy perfectly. It’s relative complexity is it’s downfall, unfortunately, and Meet the Robinsons sits on the fence in both regards.

At times too plot heavy and other times too idea-saturated, Meet the Robinsons comes across as a lightweight in comparison to films like Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Incredibles. The animation in the film is quite good, however, it’s just that the incredible images don’t have a solid story behind them.


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