Meet the Robinsons
2007, G, 92 min. Directed by Stephen J. Anderson. Voices by Stephen J. Anderson, Angela Bassett, Tom Kenny, Laurie Metcalf, Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Wesley Singerman, Matthew Josten, Nicole Sullivan, Ethan Sandler, Tom Selleck.
REVIEWED By Toddy Burton, Fri., April 6, 2007
Ever since seeing the ads for Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, I had a sinking suspicion that the end was near. While Disney’s latest animated feature might not be a sign of the apocalypse, it’s at least a sign that Disney needs to find some decent writers. The film opens with the Mickey Mouse short "Boat Builders" from 1938. Sure, the hand-drawn animation is fun to watch. But hearing Walt’s falsetto Mickey voice mixed with the thin humor, it’s difficult not to wonder, “What exactly is Disney Magic, and how can I get far, far away from it?” The story of the film, based on a children’s book by William Joyce, follows the tale of 12-year-old Lewis (voiced by Hansen and Fry), a boy-genius orphan whose crazy inventions prevent him from getting adopted. When his latest invention is sabotaged by a villain known only as Bowler Hat Guy (Anderson), Lewis encounters a wild new friend, Wilbur Robinson (Singerman), who claims to be from the future. In an effort to protect Lewis from said Bowler Hat Guy and to prove his own authenticity, Wilbur whisks Lewis off to the future. Then the time machine breaks down, and the Bowler Hat Guy sets an evil plan in motion to destroy Lewis’ life. Stuck in the future, Lewis attempts to fix the time machine and in the process, stumbles upon Wilbur’s nutty family. Navigating this unfamiliar world, Lewis must learn to trust himself and not be afraid of failure. Though the characters are unique and occasionally fun, they’re paper-thin. For example, Cousin Tallulah dresses like a chorus girl from a Busby Berkeley musical. While it’s kind of funny, there’s absolutely no explanation. And without any foundation, it’s impossible to care about these characters. This is the zany for zany’s sake school of filmmaking. The animation strives for 1950s sci-fi retro, but the result is that everyone looks like a plastic animé doll. In the Disney version of an ideal future, we all live in a world that looks like Candyland – somewhat reminiscent of an explosion at a pastel paint factory. The film ends with a quotation (attributed to Walt Disney), the essence of which is the film’s motto, “keep moving forward.” If that’s their line of thinking, then what exactly was the thought process behind Cinderella III?