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"Meet the Robinsons": Funny, Colorful, Funny, Heartwarming and Inventive (and Funny)

by on April 6, 2007

There really is nothing like settling in for a animated movie, especially one that you hear next to nothing about (even allowing for TV spots with a wacky dinosaur). Such an example is Disney’s latest feature, Meet the Robinsons. Based on the novel by William Joyce (who also penned the source material for 2005’s Robots), Meet the Robinsons is a funny, colorful, funny, heartwarming and inventive feature. (Did I mention it was funny?)

Young Lewis has spent much of his life at the 6th Street orphanage, raised by the kindly Mildred. He is quite brilliant and spends much of his time inventing, something that drives away potential parents and deprives his roommate – the talkative “Goob” – of sleep. He hopes to use one of his inventions, a memory scanner, to find the mother who gave him up when he was a baby.

He enters it into his school’s science fair, where a pair of odd characters take an interest: a fast-talking kid named Wilbur and a shady adult known simply as Bowler Hat Guy. Bowler Hat Guy (with the help of his hat, whom he calls Doris) sabotages the invention, thereby wrecking Lewis’s confidence in his abilities. Wilbur turns out to be from the future and offers to take Lewis to see his mother in his time machine.

Before I saw it (and even now), I was vaguely aware of the bumpy road this project had on its way to the screen, necessitating the help of no less than John Lasseter to iron out some of the story issues. You’d never guess at any problems watching the finished product. The look of the future is suitably vibrant and eye-filling and the characters that Lewis encounters are as quirky and endearing as can be imagined. A pair of twins residing in potted plants, a man married to a domineering hand puppet, a superhero who delivers pizzas, an octopus butler, a woman who leads an orchestra of gifted frogs, and more all can be found here.

It’s amazing how many types of humor find their way here: sight gags, slapstick and even vaudeville-style punch lines, such as the pizza-delivering superhero’s response to Lewis’s question about the chaotic dinner scene. As for the film’s music, Danny Elfman’s score is a wacky delight, and the songs (from the likes of They Might Be Giants, Rufus Wainwright and The All-American Rejects) are enjoyable. The voice actors do fine work, though very few of them are what one would consider recognizable. Tom Kenny as Mr. Willerstein, Adam West as Uncle Art, Laurie Metcalf as Lucille Krunklehorn, Harland Williams as Carl, Angela Bassett as Mildred, and Nicole Sullivan as Franny are the more well-known members of the cast.

You will definitely want to…get acquainted with the family depicted in the film. Shame on you if you thought I was going to say ‘You will definitely want to meet…’ Oops.

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