Disney Classics #47: Meet the Robinsons

This film feels like a forgotten Disney movie, and suffers from falling during a period where Disney were struggling to find their groove consistently and Pixar were in the ascendancy. It’s a shame because while it’s not up there with the best it’s still a sweet and funny movie, filled with some nice retro sci-fi stylings.

meettheobinsons

As a baby Lewis was left on the doorstep of an orphanage, he’s grown up into an imaginative and bright boy who loves science and comes up with inventions which have varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, his invention’s habit of backfiring puts off several of the families who consider adopting him.

At a school science fair Lewis enters his memory scanner, but when it goes wrong it causes chaos. Tempted to jack it all in Lewis meets Wilbur, a boy from the future who takes him 30 years into the future, where he witnesses a technologically advanced utopia. Wilbur needs Lewis’ help as another time machine has been stolen, and the thief, a man in a bowler hat, has sabotaged Lewis’ invention and plans to pass it off as his own, thereby changing the whole timeline.

Lewis meets Wilbur’s extended family, although Wilbur insists he wears a hat to disguise the fact he’s from the past. Wilbur’s family is filled with eccentrics and oddballs, all of whom pursue various weird and wonderful scientific hobbies and ideas. Lewis loves the anarchic home they share, and when he attempts to fix a machine is pleased to discover that the group applaud and celebrate scientific failure as a necessary part of learning and advancement. The family motto is “keep moving forward”, promoting the idea of learning from failure and then putting it behind you, and always moving forward.

Discovering that Lewis is an orphan the family offer him a place, but when his hat comes off they say he can’t stay and must return to his own time. Unfortunately, the bowler hat man, a figure from Lewis’ past/future has already executed his plan but it is revealed that the robot hat has used him and his desire for revenge in order to take over the world through mind control.

Can Lewis go back in time, undo the damage and restore the timeline? Can he go back and meet his mother before she abandons him? Can he stop the events that lead to bowler hat man’s hatred of him?

It’s a delightfully goofy little movie, with lots of fun, daft surrealist touches and fast paced gags. There are little moments that don’t entirely make sense but kinda add to the movie’s charm.

Animation wise it’s a mixed bag, some of the CG animation feels a little flat but the realisation of this glorious future (named Todayland in a nice reference) is stunning and the sequence where we see the nightmarish alternative future is well done and rather creepy.

It’s a bit messy and chaotic, but I like that for the most part, even if it doesn’t quite land emotionally for me. It just seems a tad rushed in places, but the characters are likeable enough and there’s just enough quirkiness to keep it going. The “keep it moving” philosophy, one held by Walt himself, is a decent one to promote as is the whole story of not dwelling on past misfortune or letting it define you.

It’s silly and fun, and while it’s definitely a lesser entry into the Disney history, I do think it deserves more love than it gets. If you haven’t seen it, check it out as it’s good for a few laughs and I dig it.

Disney Score: 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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