Disney remind us of their legacy as animation innovators with this busy busy busy story about a young inventor genius and orphan (big aah) called Lewis who is zipped into the future by his new pal Wilbur Robinson. There Wilbur hopes Lewis will help him defeat a snarling, moustachioed villain called Bowler Hat Guy (who’s not a thousand light years removed from Dick Dastardly) and Lewis hopes Wilbur will help him recover his latest whizzy gadget, the Memory Scanner, from Bowler Hat Guy’s felonious grasp. This will enable Lewis to probe his own mind, in a desperate attempt to remember who his mother was (even bigger aah). On the way Lewis meets Wilbur’s extended eccentric family, jazz-loving frogs, dogs who wear glasses and a talking dinosaur, most of which are cute, all of which teeter on the edge of sentimentality.
Though one of the first new films out of Disney after it bought Pixar (or did Pixar engineer a reverse takeover?), there is scant Pixar involvement in Meet the Robinsons, and it’s obvious. That’s not to say that the Pixar look isn’t heavily evident. But then there’s plenty of Studio Ghibli in here too. And The Jetsons, Robots, Futurama, Jimmy Neutron and more other sources than any self-respecting animation should be referencing. Meet the Robinsons brims with gorgeous 1930s modernist imagery, there’s a menagerie of off-the-wall characters and a raft of whistleable Danny Elfman songs. But there’s a distinct impression that in the breathless panic to keep adding ingredients something vital has been mislaid.
© Steve Morrissey 2007