Steve’s Wonderful Reviews of Disney: Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons

Release Date: March 23rd, 2007

Inspiration: “A Day with Wilbur Robinson” by William Joyce

Budget: $150 million

Domestic Gross: $97.8 million

Worldwide Gross: $169.3 million

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

IMDB Score: 6.8/10

Storyline (per IMDB): Lewis an orphan wants to see what his mother looked like. So he invents a machine that looks through your brain so you can see your memories. But this weird kid says he’s from the future and warns him about a guy in a bowler hat. The bowler hat guy messes with his invention and it fails. He decides that he’s a failure and no one wants him. But the kid that warned him about the guy is here on a mission to find the bowler hat guy that wants to destroy Lewis. To prove he’s from the future he takes Lewis to the future. But the time machine breaks and he’s stuck in the future until he fixes it. In the meantime he spends quality time with the family. But the bowler hat guy is about to alter time and it’s up to Lewis to save the future.

Pre-Watching Thoughts: We continue on through the 2000s with our next film and this is a big one because in March of 2007 when this film was released, that was when I began my tenure with Regal Entertainment Group. So for the next 11 years, I would see Disney’s films in the theaters and I would see how successful or potentially how badly they would be, though in all honesty this is one I do not remember that much because I was just getting my feet wet working at the movie theater. After the last few films have been very disappointing and dismal, I am hoping that this film finally turns things around though again my hopes are not that high.

Voice Cast: We continue with the trend of having a brand new cast for each film though we did have a few actors return as well, and in addition we had a few actors pull multiple duty as they voiced multiple characters in the film. But as mentioned, we do have a few returning actors as Adam West returns to voice Uncle Art and also we have the return of Laurie Metcalf who voices Lucille Krunklehorn. We now move onto the newcomers as we have Jordan Fry who voices Lewis in one of the biggest roles of his career, and we should mention that Lewis was originally voiced by Daniel Hansen with Fry being brought in to do re-dubs of lines. We then have the legendary Tom Selleck who voices Lewis as an adult as he was starting to wind down his career, and then we have Wesley Singerman who voices Wilbur Robinson in what would be the last role of his short film career. Next, we have Steven Anderson who voices Bowler Hat guy along with Grandpa Bud and cousin Tallulah in multiple roles, and we should also mention Matthew Josten who voices Michael Yagoobian as a child. We then have Harland Williams who voices Carl as he was in the peak of his career by this point, and then we have Nicole Sullivan who voices Franny with Jessie Flower voicing Franny as a child. Next, we have Angela Bassett who voices Mildred as she was also hitting the peak of her career at this point, and then we have Ethan Sandler who voices multiple roles including DOR-15, Uncle Fritz and Aunt Petunia, the twins Spike and Dmitri, Cousin Laszlo, and the CEO of InventCo. We then have Don Hall who voices Uncle Gaston and the Gym Coach in dual roles as he also wrote the screenplay for the film, and then we have Tom Kenny who voices Mr. Willerstein though he will forever be remembered as Spongebob Squarepants. Next, we have Kelly Hoover who voices Aunt Billie in a minor role and then we have Tracey Miller-Zarneke who voices Lizzy in a minor role, and we have Joe Mateo who voices the T-Rex and then we have Aurian Redson who voices Frankie the frog with Jamie Cullum providing the singing voice. We then have Paul Butcher who voices Stanley in a minor role and we have Dara McGarry who voices the receptionist and Mrs. Harrington in a dual role, and then we have John H.H. Ford who voices Mr. Harrington and finally we have Nathan Greno who voices Lefty as he also had a hand in the screenplay. This was something that I haven’t mentioned in previous reviews of members of the creative team also providing voices, and this honestly might be one of the most low-key casts in Disney history as there was a significant lack of star power for the film.

Hero/Prince: We have had a string of fairly substandard heroes to this point which is sad since we were on such a good run early on in the run, and we will see if that trend continues here as we have the young man known as Lewis. He is left at an orphanage when he is a baby and he grows up loving science though he is frustrated that no one adopts him, and he decides to try and find his mother by inventing a device that could read his memory though it is sabotaged at the science fair. He starts to lose faith in his abilities until Wilbur arrives and takes him to the future though they inadvertently destroy the time machine, and Lewis agrees to fix the machine if Wilbur takes him back in time to see his mother which Wilbur agrees. Lewis meets Wilbur’s family and they become close until they learn Lewis is from the past, and after Wilbur admits he lied Lewis runs away and is coerced by the Bowler Hat guy to fix the Memory scanner. Lewis learns the truth that he is Wilbur’s future father and after Bowler Hat guy changes the future, Lewis fixes the machine and goes back in time where he manages to restore the timeline. Wilbur decides to take Lewis back to the moment where his mother left him at the orphanage though he chooses to let the events play out, and Lewis showcases the Memory scanner and wins the science fair as he is adopted and the timeline continues on as planned. Lewis is a pretty typical kid in that he has a specific love which is science though he does have a desire to be loved and feels his mother abandoned him, and after several failures he is ready to give up though upon learning what the future holds he is encouraged to continue on and fix things. He ends up getting everything he wanted as he has a family and he becomes a major success with his numerous inventions, and while he is not a typical hero he is pretty special for this film though he will probably not rank high amongst the other heroes.

Princess: N/A

Villain: For the first time since Treasure Planet, we have a pair of villains for this film though one is a true villain while the other is not so much a reluctant villain, but a misguided villain and we start with him as it is Michael “Goob” Yagoobian or Bowler Hat guy. He is a roommate with Lewis and is obsessed with baseball as he wants to be the one to win the championship for his team, but the day of the championship he is kept awake by Lewis and he falls asleep during the game which causes his team to lose. He is beat up by the team and kicked off the team as he becomes resentful to Lewis and is never adopted, and as he grows up he remains at the orphanage and vows revenge on Lewis when he meets the true villain of the movie which is the hat known as DOR-15 or “Doris”. DOR-15 was created by an adult Lewis to serve as a helper hat but malfunctioned and was left abandoned, and it would escape and meet with Goob who came up with the plan to sabotage Lewis during the science fair before stealing his Memory scanner and passing it off as their own. After some failed attempts, they manage to coerce Lewis into showing them how it works before revealing the plan, and they succeed in taking the credit and the future is changed though it is shown that DOR-15 betrayed Goob and enslaved humanity. Lewis goes back in time and stops them by saying he would never created DOR-15 which causes it to disappear permanently, and Goob sees the error of his ways though leaves out of guilt. After Lewis returns to his time, he makes sure that Goob is awake to win the championship game and he is hailed a hero, and Goob is later adopted by a family which changes his future and maintains Lewis’. DOR-15 is a typical example of a robot meant for good that turns bad and wants to rule the world though it is stopped fairly easily which makes it a weak villain, and Goob is a classic example of a troubled soul that goes down the wrong path though he ultimately is redeemed. As a result, both of these characters are not very memorable villains and will rank near the bottom of the list.

Other Characters: This is an interesting film in that the majority of the other characters in the film are all part of an extended family, but there were a few other characters in the film as well that are fairly important to the story. We start off with the family Robinson which includes Lucille Krunklehorn who is one of the judges of the science fair, and she ends up adopting Lewis along with her husband Bud which Lewis finds out when he goes to the future. We then have Franny who is one of the classmates of Lewis and she is fond of frogs, and she would go onto be Lewis’ wife and would train her frogs to sing and play instruments in the future. We then have Wilbur Robinson who returns to the past under the guise of a cop as he tries to keep Lewis on the right path, and he takes Lewis to the future and promises to take him to see his mother if Lewis fixes the time machine as Lewis learns that Wilbur is his future son. At one point, Wilbur disappears when Bowler Hat guy and DOR-15 change the timeline only for Lewis to fix everything and restore Wilbur, and Wilbur takes Lewis to see his mother as promised before returning him to his original time. We then have the other members of the family including Franny’s brothers Art and Gaston, Uncle Joe, Aunt Billie, Uncle Fritz and “Aunt Petunia” who is a puppet on his hand, cousin Tallulah and Laszlo, the twins Spike and Dmitri, Lefty the butler, and Buster the dog. We also have Carl the robot who is invented by Lewis in the future and he helps Wilbur in his plan, and Carl helps Lewis and Wilbur out until DOR-15 destroys him though he is revived by Lewis. We then have Mildred who owns the orphanage and tries her best to help Lewis and Goob get adopted, and then we have the other minor characters like the family that interviews to adopt Lewis, the other kids in the school, Lewis’ science teacher and the gym coach, and the board of directors of InventCo. While most of the focus was on the Robinson family which makes sense given its in the name of the film, the other characters in the film played some sort of purpose to the film.

Songs: This is another film that I never thought had any songs in it, but sure enough it did have a few though again they felt more like background noise as opposed to being a critical part of the film like in the past. The first song to talk about is the song “Another Believer” which is sung as Lewis begins building his Memory Scanner, and it is a fine song to serve as a transition into one of the main points of the film. The next song in the film is the brief song “The Future Has Arrived” which is first heard as a theme song when Lewis arrives in the future and is heard again during the credits performed by the All-American Rejects, and again it is a basic song in the film as it is more showcased in the end. The next song is “Where is Your Heart At?” sung by Frankie the frog as it is quick and easy and fairly forgettable, and then we have “Little Wonders” which is performed during the closing credits by Rob Thomas and it is again fairly forgettable. We do get one more song during the credits which is “The Motion Waltz (Emotion Commotion)” and it is mainly there to close out the film. Even though these last few films have had more songs than I ever remembered, it is clear that the songs are no longer the focus of these films which is sad since that seemed to be a staple of the earlier films and we will see if this trend continues.

Plot: This is another film that I was not aware was based off a book and given how short the book is, you knew that they were going to take some liberties in coming up with a plot though they did try to keep some faithfulness to the book. In the film, Lewis is an orphan who tries to create numerous inventions which typically fail and cost him chances at being adopted, and he decides to create an invention that can scan memories so he can find his real mother. However, the invention is sabotaged by Bowler Hat man and DOR-15 despite Wilbur’s warnings and Lewis becomes discouraged, and Wilbur takes Lewis to the future in a time machine which gets destroyed and Lewis agrees to fix it if Wilbur takes him back in time to see his mother. Lewis meets Wilbur’s family and becomes close with them until they learn he is from the past and Lewis learns that he is Wilbur’s future father, and Wilbur admits he lied to Lewis who runs away and comes across Bowler Hat guy who steals the Memory Scanner. He reveals that he is Lewis’ old roommate Goob who holds a grudge against Lewis due to being the reason his baseball team lost the championship, and he partnered together with DOR-15 who was an invention cast aside by Lewis and they take credit for the Scanner which changes the future. Lewis fixes the time machine and prevents the plan from going down as DOR-15 disintegrates and the timeline is restored, and Wilbur takes Lewis to the past to meet his mother though Lewis ends up putting it behind him. Lewis returns to his time and his fixed Scanner wins the science fair as he is also adopted which sets the timeline into motion. Again, they had to take some liberty with the plot given how short the book is though they do call back to the book in the film for those that are loyal to the book, and considering the plot was in essence original it was a fine plot for a film based off a basic children’s book.

Random Watching Thoughts: I believe this is the first film to feature the Walt Disney Animation Studios logo; Lewis’ mother must’ve been in real dire straits if she felt that she had to give up Lewis to an orphanage; She could afford to have a blanket for baby Lewis, yet she had to leave him in a cardboard box; Goob is going on and on while Lewis is clearly too focused on his work to pay attention to his ramblings; Goob tries to use the airhorn to get Lewis’ attention only to blow it in his own face; The Harringtons quickly realize that they are in over their head with Lewis just reading his notebook; How is that toaster not weighing down on Lewis’ head and causing him to lose his balance?; I wonder who Sarah and Jack are; You know there’s trouble when Lewis has kept exact count of all the times he’s been rejected; That is a big stretch for Lewis to think that his mother would want him now when she gave him up as a baby; He gets the idea for the Memory Scanner from a “Brain Scanners from Mars” billboard; “Boring”; Goob is clearly over being Lewis’ assistant; Everyone is used to Lewis’ inventions going bad that they have their own protection; I don’t think Mildred should be giving Goob coffee when he’s so young; “You have to get out of the past and look to the future”, something that will come into play later in the film; Lucille was right when she said that she doesn’t get out of the lab very often; How has Lucille not died from a caffeine overdose?; Are they really that short of teachers that the gym teacher is a judge for the science fair?; Of course the goth girl would have fire ants; Time Continuum Task Force; All DOR-15 had to do to sabotage the Scanner is loosen a few screws; If he is entering the date like I think he is, he was left behind at the orphanage on January 23rd, 2011; The gym coach tries hard to resist the fire ants, but ends up running around crying like a girl; This was the one invention that didn’t explode, but it still caused an insane amount of damage; I get future Goob was supposed to be a villain, but they made him way too stereotypical; Of all the things Wilbur could’ve used for a fake badge, he had to use a $15 coupon for a tanning salon; It’s a good thing Wilbur knew where his time machine was when he threw Lewis off the roof because that could’ve been really bad; Insta-Building; Obviously, they took some inspiration from Tomorrowland in the Disney parks to the point that the city was called “Todayland”; Instead of cars, people get around in bubbles; Lewis thinks he’s older than Wilbur because he was born in the past and technically, he is right in that; Goob thinks the receptionist is listening to him when she is actually on the phone; If only the real Mary Johnson came in and realized that someone stole her appointment spot; The CEO has seen a lot of pitches to the point that he times them to a specific point; Lewis went to the point that he had to make the headphones comfortable to wear; That is a strong cord to be able to pull the CEO across the table that easily; Goob actually censors himself when writing on his checklist; Of all the things to put on Lewis’ head to disguise him, he would use a fruit hat; How come we never actually learn why Spike and Dmitri are in those plants asking people to ring their doorbells?; Carl rants to Wilbur about the dangers they face yet also makes mention about his stolen bike; Yeah that sounds bad, but there is a .000001% chance Wilbur will live; Is it just me or does Bud look a lot like Geri from the Pixar short “Geri’s Game”?; Gaston would’ve beaten the train if he didn’t blast himself into the pillar; He painted a masterpiece in mere seconds; Fritz has a puppet on his hand that believes it’s alive and everyone treats it like it’s normal; The dog has insurance?; Only in the future can an octopus be a butler; Apparently, Franny was a fan of the Rat Pack because her frogs are pretty much carbon copies of them; Lewis learned about the family tree pretty quickly; They actually superimposed a real picture of Tom Selleck; They have no icepacks nearby so Goob has to use a piece of meat on his black eye; Adult Goob acting like the Emperor from “Star Wars” telling child Goob to embrace the hate; “Keep Moving Forward”; You have to be really dedicated if you fail well over 900 times yet keep working towards your goal; Lewis messes up one time on something he’s never dealt with before and he’s ready to give up completely again; Goob needs some work with his coordination skills in driving the mini DOR-15; Call me crazy, but gravy doesn’t work on spaghetti and meatballs; So the USA conquered Canada at some point and renamed it North Montana; The screen goes dark right before the fight and they even ape the classic Japanese samurai films complete with the overdubbed dialogue; So the first course was spaghetti and meatballs which is the appetizer to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; Clearly, Frankie still has some of his wits if he claims that Goob’s plan isn’t the best; I’ve never seen people celebrate failure so much; Goob probably should’ve thought more about going back in time and getting a dinosaur to do his bidding; These are some very unorthodox ways to fight off a T-Rex; Lewis would end up in the one area where the T-Rex couldn’t reach him; Even the T-Rex has his own language; Looks like mini DOR-15 is sleeping with the fishes; Wilbur really doesn’t want to reveal the truth to the family, but they left him no choice; They have to show Goob crossing his fingers behind his back; All of those futuristic buildings yet the orphanage looks like it hasn’t been touched in years; He kept his old baseball uniform on all these years; Goob thinks that everyone hated him yet it looks like they wanted to be friends with him; He is a typical example of not taking responsibility for your own actions and instead want to blame someone else; If only Wilbur had made sure the door was shut completely to set the alarm; Lewis realizes that Mildred was right all along about letting go of the past and moving to the future; We go from Goob just wanting to ruin Lewis’ life to DOR-15 creating a bunch of clones and taking over the world; I’m surprised that in their scheming that Goob and DOR-15 never thought to kill Lewis and change the future that way; That has to be the most anticlimactic ending to a villain in any Disney film; It’s funny how past Lewis dictates to Wilbur like he does knowing that he’s his father; So obviously this universe is set up that if your past self meets your future self, it doesn’t cause any disturbances in the space-time continuum; Of course Carl would try and ask Lewis to change his design while he’s there; Lucille clearly establishing she’s the dominant one in the relationship; We come full circle as we see the opening scene play out again and we learn that it was Lewis that distracted his mom briefly and also knocked on the door; Wilbur seems like the kind of person that would go back in time repeatedly to make sure Lewis stayed on the right path; Lewis had enough sense to make sure that Goob would win the game for his team and change his future as well; Everyone builds a barricade and prepares for the worst; So since Lewis met their future selves, do their past selves now have knowledge about this?; Lewis remembers that Franny is always right and gets on her good side; So their home was once an observatory; We see the early model of Carl on the ground; “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney.

Overall Thoughts: Overall, this was a fairly decent film and easily better than the last two films I watched, but this was still not that great and was on par with a few of the other films from this decade. It is really sad that the quality of these films have severely declined over the last decade because I have really wanted to like these films having never watched them before, but while these films were not expected to live up to the expectations of the previous films they have not even lived up to my most basic expectations. The 2000s have been a tough time for Disney as they were growing in other aspects, but the animation studio was in a real slump and hopefully they would be able to pull out of it at the end of the decade. As for this film, it is a fairly average film that falls in line with the rest of the films from this decade.

Final Grade: 4.5/10