A surprising, well-rounded, enjoyable family romp, Meet the Robinsons is one of the best of the animated crop from 2007. Fun characters lead this fast-paced story through a futuristic time-travel scenario with loads of humor.
Lewis is an orphan, but also a determined inventor. While he fails, he soon learns of his fate as the savior of the space/time continuum. His path is filled with misadventures leading to entertaining action and sly humor accessible to the young and old.
The plot delivers a number of surprising twists for a movie aiming young, pushing the story above standard animated fare. The imaginative locales create wonderfully designed visual backdrops, and character design is memorable. Sadly, this is a movie pushing to make an imaginary hour and a half time limit, and the dizzying pace (particularly when the Robinsons are introduced) can make names or places impossible to put together.
The simple yet effective character animation lends the film a fine style that hearkens back to classic hand-drawn features. The villain is especially done in this tone, with the classic “evil moustache.” A wonderful performance by director Stephen Anderson doesn’t hurt the character either.
Meet the Robinsons ends on a refreshing, touching, and charming note as well. Even if at times the story runs through a few typical animation pitfalls, it redeems itself in the end by not taking an expected approach to Lewis’s adventure and goal.
The humor is spot-on throughout, and while the loads of characters limit the amount of screen time for many, the jokes are still effectively handled. A bit with a Tyrannosaurus is both crowd-pleasing in its action and a priceless running gag finishes it. Some jokes only an adult will pick up on, particularly a bit involving a parody of kung-fu movies in the middle.
It’s hard not to fall for this charming piece of animation. While it may not be on fire as with other modern Disney efforts (Emperor’s New Groove being the immediate film that comes to mind), this is a funny translation of the popular children’s book. Don’t let Meet the Robinsons fall into the pit of the forgotten with the countless CG-animated adventures. It’s original enough to earn its keep.
Ranking right up there with Cars and Ratatouille in terms of its video presentation, Robinsons is loaded with showcase moments. The transfer is impeccable, with a crispness that cannot be described in words. The dazzling color is matched only by details in realistic textures. Look at things such as concrete or the bricks of the orphanage to see the startling amount of detail a transfer like this can bring out. There are no instances of banding or aliasing.
While the audio is a step down, the PCM offering is enough to satisfy. The track doesn’t have the fullness behind it to create an immersive mix that one would expect. Certain scenes do deliver, including the T. Rex assault (bass is exceptional here), and the first entry into the future (fantastic surround use). The rest of film seems stuck in the front channels without the called-for subtlety.
A commentary leads the extra features, this one a solo track by director Anderson. Inventing the Andersons is an above-average making-of, looking at the book the movie was based on and who the characters were inspired by. This is an 18-minute affair.
Six deleted scenes (three exclusive to Blu-ray) include an alternate take on the ending. Each is introduced by the director. Keep Moving Forward: Inventions that Shaped the World is a brief look for the younger set on the more important inventions people have created. A music video, two games, and Disney’s standard Movie Showcase (which takes viewers to the scenes that show off video and audio the best) finish off the features.