Just forget the words and sing along

Friday, November 16, 2007

Animated Film Catch-Up: Meet the Robinsons

OK, let's try this again.

I love animated film. There was once a time when I would rush down to the theatre and see every animated film that came out. I remember I started doing it about 10 years ago. Oh, I'll never forget sweet Erin Collette, who declared me the coolest man she knew cuz I went to see The Little Mermaid. But I digress.

I stopped doing it a few years back mainly because all animated films these days seem to be little more than talking animals making fart jokes. In fact, I still remember the exact film I saw that made me go, "That's it! Every animated film is not worth seeing anymore!" That film was Shrek 2.

So what I do now is, every year and a half or so, I play "animated film catch-up." I'll go down to the video store, rent every animated film that piqued my interest, and spend a weekend catching up. And I figured it was time to do that again.

Here, on this Friday afternoon, I went to the video store, rented my movies, and I've got my weekend planned. And I'm going to spend this weekend watching and reviewing! I just finished the first one, so let's get to it. I started things off with....

Meet the Robinsons

Directed by Stephen J. Anderson

Animation house: Walt Disney Studios

Starring the voices of Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Angela Basset, Tom Kenny, Laurie Metcalf, Nicole Sullivan, Wesley Singerman, Steven J. Anderson and Harland Williams

The backstory: So here's the deal. When the great Disney/Pixar merger happened a couple years back, people thought it would be the end of Pixar. People thought Pixar would start pumping out bland, listless animated films like Disney had been pumping out. But then, people looked at the fine print. As part of this merger, most of the Pixar management would be taking over Disney animation. It was more like Pixar was taking over Disney. But, would Pixar's soul be transferred over? Would Disney start pumping out films that make me feel something, like just about every Pixar film does? Meet the Robinsons was the first one made under the Pixar management regime, so it was time to find out.

Plot: Little Lewis has it rough. He's an orphan, and thanks to his quirky sensibilities, he's a tad un-adoptable. Since Lewis is a brilliant inventor, he decides to invent a machine that will extract his buried memories, and use these to track down his birth family. But then, when Lewis goes to try out his invention at the science fair, it's sabotaged by a mysterious Bowler Hat Guy, and his robotic Bowler Hat. Just when Lewis is about to give up, he meets Wilbur Robinson, who zaps him to the future. There, Lewis meets Wilbur's family, and works to undo the machinations of the Bowler Hat Guy and get back to his own time. Just what exactly is Lewis's connection to the Robinson family and the Bowler Hat Guy? Will he ever get his memory extractor working? Or, now that he has a time machine, will he just go back in time and meet his birth parents?

What I Liked: Danny Elfman does another spectacular score. The revelation of who the Bowler Hat Guy is. How Lewis finally undoes the evil plot. The poorly-dubbed kung fu fight in the middle. "Well, I've got little arms, and I don't think this plan was completely thought out, Master." And the fact that there's so few celebrity voices in the cast.

What I Didn't Like: The Robinson family is far too big and far too quirky for my tastes. Seriously, they could have cut out the aunts and uncles and we would have been fine.

Final Verdict: This film doesn't quite have that Pixar soul yet, but it's the first non-Pixar film that's come painfully close. This could be the harbinger of better things.

3 Nibs

And thus starts my weekend! We'll have another one after supper!

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