Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Review: Meet the Robinson's

I'm thinking that I'll probably just give up on the review for The Last Mimsy. It's been a few weeks since I saw it, and I didn't take down notes, what with expecting to be on the ball and all. So, in an effort to be on top of things, I'm actually taking a few minutes to write this review a few hours after having actually watched Meet the Robinson's.

This is the 46th Disney animated film, and is based on an illustrated book titled A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce. Parents of small children may recognize that name in association with the Playhouse Disney animated series Rolie Polie Olie, an amusing, science-fiction based children's program. A simple plot synopsis is thus:

Wilbur Robinson ia an energetic teen who travels back from the future. He does so to convince an orphaned genius named Lewis not to give up on his first important invention, the memory scanner, which is in danger of being hijacked by a mysterious villain known only as the "Bowler Hat Guy". Bowler Hat Guy is followed by, and takes orders from, Doris, a mechanical hat from the future which helps, or makes, Bowler Hat Guy obey it.
Truthfully, on my first thought, I didn't think this was that great of a movie. Yet the more I think about it, the more I realized that this was just a very subtle movie in what it was trying to show. There is a serious science-fiction bent to the movie, that, in my opinion, one must be a geek to truly appreciate. Everything from the whole time-travel, flying cars to the mysteries of the hippocampus. Yet for all this subtleness in the hard science fiction arena, the plot is overly simplistic. There wasn't a single surprise that I didn't catch before it happened. My big question for the whole thing though, is this subtleness an attempt to be clever, or just poor story-telling. Frankly, at this point, I think it could go either way.

The characters in this film are fun, in a somewhat simplistic sense. I don't have a whole lot to say here, as they are fairly one-dimensional. The villain is a villain. Lewis is the reluctant hero. Wilbur is the cocky trouble-maker. Of course, this does give some benefits to things. The villain, known throughout most of the film as the Bowler Hat Guy, is as vaudeville as one can get and still be in color. He's thin and spindly, twirls his mustache, and in general, everything about him just says: villain.

As always, the voice acting is top-notch. Disney pays top dollar to get great voice actors, this film included actors such as Angela Bassett, Adam West and Tom Selleck. I know the anime industry here in the States can't do this, but how I wish they did.

The settings were basically the present and the future. The present was normal, brick buildings, cars, the usual sort of thing, and of course, the Dinoco Dino, except in green this time. But the future... oh the future. I fear for the future now. After all, according to this movie, the future is an art deco nightmare, of bubbles, curves and pastels. In my many years of watching SciFI movies, I've seen many, many possible futures. Everything from the dystopian visions found in Judge Dredd to the horror of Taco Bell being the only government-approved restaurant (and what does it say about me, that my two examples are Stallone movies?). Yet, I don't think I have ever been as horrified about facing the future, as I was when the thought that it could be art deco presented itself. It made me shudder. I'm a bit scared of nightmares even.

Much to my own chagrin, I'm still up in the air on whether or not I like this movie. It's an incredibly odd beast. Not as fun as Cars or Toy Story, yet at the same time, it's not as science-fiction minded as such things as Titan A.E.. I'm not sure what exactly this is trying to be. In one moment, it's light-hearted fun, but never gets as fun as Cars, while at other times it's hard-science fiction, yet even then it doesn't quite get all the way into full SciFi. Frankly, I think the movie would have been served by the decision to go fully one way or the other.

And while writing this line, I realized where I had seen this exact way of switching between light-hearted goofiness and SciFi before: Rolie Polie Olie. I knew intellectually, that the guy who wrote the story this movie was based on also created that children's series-yet the implications of that fact on the movie itself, and on how it will play out did not sink in. Rolie Polie Olie is a show for toddlers, and is built up on that same mixture of easy going fun and science fiction.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad movie (such as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians) it's just not necessarily a good movie.

In the end, the things I like about this movie, aren't quite enough to pull up the low score I have to give this based on the things I dislike. So, I have to give it a 1.7 out of 4.


Dawn said...

You put way too much thought into a childrens movie.

Stephen Wrighton said...

Ah, but that's why you love me Pi

Thrawn said...

Nice review. I think I'll be avoiding it...

Stephen Wrighton said...

*Nods* Understandable, I can't honestly recommend it, and I'm not 100% certain if it's going to make it into our DVD collection.

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