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Friday, April 11, 2008

Movie Review: Meet the Robinsons

It's been a long time since Disney really got something right. With Enchanted hitting a lot of the right buttons and the Pixar lineup hitting all of them, it's really a treat when Disney simply gives you something quaint and likable.
Meet the Robinsons is about a lot of things, but namely about the nature of family. Lewis is a semi-brilliant inventor who was left by his mother at an orphanage. By semi-brilliant I mean that he invents really cool things, but they pretty much always fail and cause mild disaster. But Lewis has little hope that he'll ever be adopted. Then a brilliant idea comes to him: what if he can make a machine that will allow him to remember his mother, and ultimately can find her to have a family again? But when things go horribly wrong, Lewis finds himself dragged into a world of the future by a young boy who needs Lewis' help to stop the Bowler Hat Guy from changing the past and destroying everything.
The cliches are there. Yes, we have another story about an orphan boy who has to save the world. This is also yet another story about the consequences of time travel. Still, the characters are charming. All of them. The Bowler Hat Guy is creepy and comical, Grandpa Bud is slightly crazy, and Franny has a band of singing frogs. What more could you want? Well there is more: Adam West plays the voice of a futurist pizza delivery guy who comes off so much like a superhero that you can't help but laugh and for some reason, Doris is an eastern European woman who races "model" trains, which aren't really models at all.
I found myself giggling here and there throughout the movie. This is a good thing because I was watching the film alone and I don't generally laugh when I'm by myself (there's just something missing from the environment). A lot of the funny parts were in the previews, but there are loads more that will have kids giggling too. The dinosaur is hilarious (we've seen the scene where it talks about its small arms).
I think we should move to the breakdown now, since I'm giving away all the bits I liked already.

Direction 4/5
I can't say that the directing is the best ever, but it didn't annoy me. That generally means I liked the directing. If I don't notice directorial faults, it's usually an instant 4. One thing that becomes a problem with looking at the direction of animated films is that the process is somewhat different. I think the director here did a fantastic job pulling together all the elements of the characters. Every time the Bowler Hat Guy had his goofy, slightly creepy grin on I was grinning. Good directing for sure, but I don't think it is award-winning (it's no Finding Nemo). Probably the only thing that I didn't find as enjoyable were the singing frogs. I didn't get that "big band" feel that they were supposed to be conveying.

Cast 5/5
I'm basing this entirely off of the voice talent and on the fact that I don't really know who any of the people are. I recognized Adam West instantly, because it's hard not to, but the others weren't recognizable simply because their voices were so brilliant. One fellow plays several of the characters and whoever played the Bowler Hat Guy was so perfect for the role (coupled with the visuals you really get this sense of emotion and hilarity).
Basically, I would say the casting was perfect. There aren't any voices I can think of that don't fit.

Adaptation N/A
As far as I know, this wasn't based on a book or anything.

Writing 4/5
I can't put my finger on it, but it does seem like there are some missing elements. The good bits are where we are presented with the future, which is somewhat wacky and, well, futuristic. It's pretty fun to think about how different the future may be and with Disney this is a rather common experience (Tomorrow Land anyone?)
The story itself moves well and there aren't really any bits where you wonder just what is going on. It's entertaining and I think that is probably the point. It does deal with some serious issues, but kids aren't really going to care about that. What they will notice is a geeky hero rising up and succeeding in saving the world. Maybe there is some originality in that for kids. There aren't a whole lot of geeky protagonists in Disney films (real geeks). Basically, it's entertaining and it definitely drew me in.

Visuals 4/5
The biggest bonus for the visuals is what seems to me to be a good dose of originality. The Bowler Hat Guy, as I have said, is so wonderfully creepy that you can't help but be fascinated by his enormous, grinning face and his skulking mannerisms. Goob has huge dark circles under his eyes and he actually looks rather tired. The style is very familiar, as are a lot of these Disney or Pixar CG films, but there are some fascinating changes to it, particularly in certain characters. My only complaint is that some things look a little too cartoony for this style and probably should have been made a little more layered and real (while still maintaining that it isn't real, if that makes sense)

Overall 4.25/5
This is certainly worth watching. It's a cute little film and kids will love it. There's not much that is wrong with the film and that's probably a good thing to say. I can't think of anything that made me cringe.
So, you should see this one. If you don't, the Bowler Hat Guy will go back in time and make sure you are never born. Yeah. Okay, that's an empty threat, but give this one a good look.

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  1. Great review & I so have wanted to see this movie when it came out, but it may just have to wait till DVD (Argh *LOL*).

    I like how you've broken out different parts a movie holds.

    It also nice to see you enjoyed some laughs by yourself. I giggled upon reading since I tend to be that lone soul that has to try to not laugh during movie moments. For some reason, if the flick has a good story line, it draws me in & I escape :P

    Take care!

  2. It's on DVD now, actually. Since October of last year :P.

  3. Guess I am behind :P Kewl, I need to check out Wally World's DVD section.