Meet the Robinsons seemed to come and go in theaters without much fuss. It received a fairly positive critical reception, but it simply failed to stand out from the other myriad of CGI films that were making their way to the screen. While I had heard from a few friends that the film was enjoyable, I didn’t expect it to be as enjoyable as it was. At its core, Meet the Robinsons is just a film that makes you smile, laugh and reminds you why you enjoyed watching cartoons so much as a kid.
Lewis’s life was troubled from the start. Left on the doorstep of an orphanage, Lewis never knew his mother and through the years went through over a hundred interviews with couples who wanted to adopt. Distraught by one failure after another, Lewis’s hope is completely dashed at the local school fair where his invention once again malfunctions and causes an upset. What Lewis didn’t know, however, is that his device was sabotaged by a time-traveling villain who was being tracked by a boy named Wilbur. The two pair up to go after the guy, but when Lewis requires proof that Wilbur is really from the future, things start to get hairy as Lewis runs into his future family.
The story for Meet the Robinsons is overly simple, but it was so enjoyable to watch. It’s astonishing how the simple things in this film can entertain me so much, but perhaps it’s because of all the films I’ve watched over the past few months that I just needed a family friendly romp that this movie provides.
The G rating is actually kind of surprising; as in the older Disney movies , there are elements that will perhaps go over kids heads or jokes that are more adult-based, which make the film accessible to all ages. A lot of the humor in the film is quick and fast paced and the voice actors are all wonderful. That’s one thing I found surprising about the film; unlike most animated films of late, Meet the Robinsons wasn’t exactly thudding with star power. Sure, there was Angela Basset and Tom Selleck, but the films trailers and even the DVD doesn’t mention any voice actors; I later learned in one of the extras that the director of the film preferred to hire actors with a theater background, which is wonderful because I tired of watching extras that had movie stars talking about how they could arrive in pajamas to record their lines.
Also to be noted, of course, was the CGI in the film. While I still enjoy 2D animation, 3D animation is obviously the thing for studios to animate in now and I’ve slowly come to accept that fact. The CGI in this film is rather remarkable; perhaps even Pixar level, as blasphemous as some may find that. It’s a really solidly structured film that is only bolstered by its animation.
Going back to the humor element, we have a really great collection of characters in the Robinsons. At one point in the film, it turns into a badly-dubbed martial arts film for a few seconds and even the main villain of the film is named “Bowler Hat Guy”, which still makes me laugh that he was named as such for nearly the entire film. On top of that was the hilarious T-Rex dialogue that was shown in the trailers and it’s even funnier when seen in context of the film.
The film also has a fair bit of heart; after all, the film is about an orphan so that element is prominent throughout the film. While it didn’t tug on my heart strings like other Disney efforts in the past, there was definitely a warm, fuzzy feeling to be had from this film. Combined with the strong soundtrack (for the first time in a long time, I didn’t recognize the score as Danny Elfman’s work—usually I can spot it), the film is about as entertaining as a cartoon nowadays can be. It has heart; it has laughs and is just an overall delight to watch. Highly Recommended.
Arriving on DVD and Blu-Ray, Meet the Robinsons looks and sounds wonderful. Presented in a standard amaray case with a foil reflective/embossed slip cover, Meet the Robinsons will certainly stand out on shelves. Inside are inserts for the Disney Rewards program as well as an insert for the film itself. Menus are easy to navigate and feature full animation and music over each one.
The film looks amazing on DVD; no compression or artifacting can be seen and the films bright and colorful palette jumps off the screen. Even in the more dramatic moments with the darker colors the picture looks remarkable. Sound is also strong, with the proper amount of bass being pushed out (notably when the machines time travel) as well as a rather nice use of surrounds.
First up on the special features docket is a collection of deleted scenes. The scenes all feature video intros by the director with explanations why the scenes were dropped. They actually would completely rearrange some of the feelings one has about the film should they been included; curiously enough, some are almost entirely finished, though a few are accompanied by rough animation and storyboards.
“Inventions that Shaped the World” is a short documentary on the many inventions that have occurred in the past century and how they affected the world. This is told mostly through historical footage and is accompanied by scenes from the movie as well as other animated Disney features. “Inventing the Robinsons” is a short making-of catch-all that covers the inspiration for the film, the initial stages of production, the voice actors and the music and everyone’s overall feelings towards the film. This is how I like my making-of’s on most films—short and to the point, but giving the viewer enough to feel that he knows how the production of the film went.
An audio commentary is the last on our stop and is a really nice track by director Stephen Anderson. It’s clear a lot of heart went into the production of this film and it’s a delight to hear about his experiences throughout his career to get him to this point. For some reason I’m getting a “the next Brad Bird” vibe off of this director; hopefully we’ll get to see more of his talents in future productions.
A few music videos, games for kids and previews for other Disney films wrap up the extras on this set. Overall this is a solid DVD release for this film; it’s not overly ambitious and like the film itself, the DVD is just an enjoyable experience. Recommended.
Meet the Robinsons is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.