April 1, 2007

Movie Review: Meet the Robinsons

It seems that no matter how hard they try, they are just simply unable to approach the brilliance that is Pixar and virtually every one of their releases. When I left the theater, I was disheartened to have had my reservations proven correct. This film is not all that funny and lacks heart, I cannot honestly say that I felt any connection to the characters that paraded across the screen.

Preferring whiz-bang style as opposed to any actual development of characters, the scenes speed by with little impact. The random songs and action sequences at times feeling like padding blended with shorthand story telling. Then there is a whole message about looking to the future rather than looking at the past that is hammered home whenever an opportunity presents itself. At times, like the hallucinogenic whirlwind tour of the Robinson household, the story seems completely random; simply put, it doesn't ever gel.

The story, such as it is, follows young Lewis, an inventor/orphan who has never managed to find a family of his own. He is about to give up when he meets a young boy from the future who promises to take him to see his mom. Before that can happen, the two go on an adventure in the future where Lewis meets the whacky Robinson clan and has to foil the plans of the evil Bowler Hat Guy. None of it was all that compelling, I found the family to be more annoying than anything else and none of them had an impact on me. Even young Lewis I found to be unlikable and, for the most part, surly.

The animation was detailed and brightly colored, but there were portions that just did not look right, mainly during the flying scenes and some of the transitions. The movie is being shown in Disney 3D and you can see the sequences that were designed for that purpose. When viewed in conventional 2D, those scenes stick out and look rather awkward.

There were a couple of sequences that I liked, but it was because of what they were rather than what they added to the movie (nothing). One of them is in the advertisements for the film, the bit with the dinosaur being unable to the little boy due to his big head and little arms. It never fails to make me chuckle. Then there are a couple of homages to films of the past, two of which stood out for me. First, the brother and sister Robinson duo getting into a fight at the dinner table which plays out like an old kung fu movie. Second, Grandpa reenacting Charlie Chaplin's dinner roll dance from Gold Rush. Outside of those moments, it seemed like the makers were actively working against my smile.

That brings me to something that truly brings a smile to my face, and that is the cartoon that precedes the film. John Lasseter and Pixar have done this with their films, but this time around, instead of a new cartoon, it is a classic Mickey Mouse cartoon called Boat Builders. It teams Mickey with Donald and Goofy on a quest to build a boat that comes in pieces in a box. It is a fun throwback to the old days at the movies, and is the best story told at this screening.

Now, I know that Mr. Lasseter is credited as an executive producer, but it does not seem that he had much of an impact on this release. The film was in its final stages when the Disney/Pixar merger took place (I won't call it a buy out of Pixar, as Pixar's brass came out on top in the stock count). It is also my understanding that members of Pixar's creative team were brought on, late in the game, to do some touch ups, but it is clear that there was little to work with, taking the film itself as evidence. If I had to guess, I believe that Bowler Hat Guy's portioin of the tale was tweaked the most by Pixar's involvement.

Bottomline. The kids will probably be entertained, but they also won't remember it for long afterwards. As for the adults, prepare for a nothing experience. The story seems to be filled with potential, but it is not told well, and you will probably guess the twist early on. I'd recommend skipping this and waiting for the next Pixar flick.

Not Recommended.


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