Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons (2007) has a kind of plot and a kind of theme. It's a story about an orphaned boy searching for his mother, a time-traveling story, a story about a young inventor. It's about how a boy from the future comes back to the past to influence an event that may or may not happen in the future. It's about how a boy from the past travels to the future to change events there. We can follow the narrative, in its own way. But the film—the animated film—is too much of everything. The main character, Wilbur Robinson (named after the boy from Lost in Space?) is likeable and engaging. He's always trying to make new inventions, and they always seem to fail. He's always hoping for parents who will come to his orphanage to adopt him, and he's always scaring them off—he's apparently frightened off something like 123 sets of parents.

The film is so fast, frenetic, and loud that it's difficult to enjoy. The pace of the action seems out of sync with the main character. The animation is fun, but after a while it grows tiresome. We're not given a chance to enjoy one scene before another one comes clambering along right behind it. The burlesque quality of some characters seems to clash with the more realistic quality of others. The sudden appearance of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (brought by Wilbur's nemesis from the prehistoric past) brings some excitement and fear to the film, but it's inconsistent with the rest of the film. The family that Wilbur goes to visit in the future is such a circus-like conglomeration of clowns, freaks, geeks, and normal people that it's difficult to make sense of. Stylistically the film seems incoherent, it switches in tone too often and too fast—it's dark and it's light and it's comic and it's scary and it's warm and it's doleful--ultimately it's disappointing that it's not better and more entertaining than it manages to be.


ResidueOfDesign said...

Hmm. I guess for me, the ending of the film and its overall message really saves it, at least for me. I thought that the villain, Bowler Hat Guy, was clever, if not inventive. And after all, it is a movie intended primarily for children. I honestly thought this movie was better than Cars or Ratatouille, which abstract the moral or lesson to be learned behind a flood of too-concrete animation; at least Meet the Robinsons was imaginative and playful in the way it represented the world. Also, the movie is based on a picture book called A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce, whose work I find interesting and surreal. I think that, solely as an adaptation of the book, the movie works, and the Disney spin on it actually works.

P.S. Wilbur is the boy from the future; Lewis is the present-day inventor.

Hugh Ruppersburg said...

Thank you for reading my comments on the film. Your remarks will lead me to reconsider my opinions.