Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Toshi’s really starting to enjoy going to screenings now, and he’s starting to get interested in what’s happening onscreen. This will be one of the few films we’ll actually take him to see, and we’ll see if he’s willing to try the 3D again. Will I enjoy it at the same time? That’s the question that sort of hangs over Disney Feature Animation right now, because it’s been a while since I think they’ve been running at full creative strength. Is this the start of a new DFA? Let’s see what today’s spy thinks:
Hi Harry! I'm writing reviews for a German movie website and thus got into a press screening of the new CG animated Disney movie "Meet the Robinsons" in Munich last night and wrote a review I thought you could use on AICN. I tried to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. I'm a big animation fan and love many of the old Disney movies, although lately I’ve been more impressed with Pixar's films than anything Disney had to offer in the last few years. However, the story of this one is actually quite interesting and not as uninspired and generic as Disney's last traditionally animated feature "Home on the Range" or as messy as their first CG outing "Chicken Little". It offers a number of nice surprises and even a good plot twist or two without causing too much of the old time-traveling headache. The humor also works quite well, although many of the jokes seem to be aimed at adults and little kids might not get all of them. (Didn’t bother me, though…) Most importantly, this film does not contain a single fart joke nor any talking animals or even animal sidekicks (except for those singing frogs you might have seen in the trailers, but they're really not the same thing). The story: Lewis is a twelve year old boy genius who lives at an orphanage and invents all kinds of crazy machines. However, most of his inventions don’t really work out and so he manages to freak out all potential adoption parents which makes him want to find his real mother. Since he is the only person who has ever seen her, he starts to construct a memory scanner that would help him remember her face. When he finishes the scanner, he wants to present it at a science fair but then causes quite a bit of chaos when the machine malfunctions drastically. But at that point he also meets a boy named Wilbur Robinson who claims to be from the future and tells Lewis that a shady villain called The Bowler Hat Guy, who also came from the future, sabotaged his otherwise brilliant invention. To prove his claims, he then actually takes Lewis to the future in his time machine and accidentally introduces him to his giant family that consists mainly of amiable wackos. I won't go into further details here but I can tell you that the Bowler Hat Guy follows them to cause more trouble. I don't know how close this adaptation is to William Joyce's novel "A Day With Wilbur Robinson", as I've never read anything Joyce has written, but it all works pretty well and manages to be an exiting and entertaining family adventure movie. One aspect of the movie that works particularly well is the design. The buildings, machines and landscapes of the future really look totally cool and have a very own look that is inspired by Joyce's illustrations and various visions of the future from the 50s and 60s. They're beautifully rendered, too.Furthermore, the animation is pretty awesome. The movements of the quirky characters are very fast but funny and cleverly stylized. The best example for this is the Bowler Hat Guy who moves in a unique style that makes him look like a giant Spider. This really is a welcome change from the hyper-realistic motion capturing stuff we've been seeing in a lot of movies lately. The character design isn't so bad either. However, the humans don't look quite as good as the ones in The Incredibles, the stylization of some characters makes them look a little too artificial for my taste. The voice-acting, which relies on solid voice actors and luckily doesn't involve any fancy stunt casting, leaves nothing to be desired. Danny Elfman's score is pretty fine, too. I could have done without the cheesy pop songs that were played at some parts of the film, though. Altogether, I highly recommend seeing this warmhearted family film to any animation fan. It might not be as good as my Pixar favorites "The Incredibles" and "Finding Nemo", but it has a fresh premise and sure is a lot better than most of the other studios' generic wisecracking-and-farting-animal flicks. With Pixar's John Lasseter pulling the strings at Disney's animation unit now, they finally seem to be getting back on the right track and I'm looking forward to their next projects, especially the traditionally animated "The Frog Princess". One last thing: as some of you might have heard, Disney wants to start putting original animated shorts in front of their feature films again. Meet the Robinsons kind of makes a start by showing the old Mickey, Donald & Goofy short "Boat Builders" in the beginning. It‘s a great experience to see one of those on the big screen again and the kids in the audience apparently loved it. As English is not my native language, I hope you excuse any grammar or spelling errors. If you use this, call me “DesignDude".