My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that………….I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to enjoy it. Some parts of it are a bit forgettable, we do not get much time with the family, and the transition between the serious tone and comedy is almost as bad as it is in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. There is a HUGE shift and a different feeling between Chicken Little (and its predecessors) to this film (and its successors). Meet the Robinsons feels like it has some Pixar elements to it.
So production on this film started a bit after the release of Home on the Range, starting in June 2004. By this time, the 2d department was already closed, and they were already onto CGI projects. they started production, and the project was a lot different than what we got today.
When Disney acquired Pixar for $7.4 billion dollars in early 2006, and the studio renamed itself Walt Disney Animation Studios instead of Walt Disney Feature Animation. I spoke about the contractual issues in the Chicken Little review, so I will not go deep into it here. John Lasseter became President and Chief Creative Officer of both Pixar and WDAS, and when he saw this project, he demanded changes, and 60% of the film was changed, including a changed ending, a dinosaur chase, and a scarier villain. They had an issue with the voice of Lewis, since the original actor lost his voice, and had to be replaced, kind of like Arthur from The Sword in the Stone.
The film starts with a mother (whose face is covered) carrying a little baby that will be known as Lewis (Jordan Fry and Dave Hansen) to an Orphanage, and runs after knocking it, where the orphanage owner Mildred (Angela Bassett) brings him in.
12 years later, he is too bus working on his invention and too insensitive to even listen to his roommate Michael “Goob” Yagoobian (Matthew Josten) who is trying to have a conversation with him about baseball. Potential parents show up to interview Lewis to see if he wants him, and he decides to bring his latest invention
I never even knew you where allowed to bring stuff when you are meeting a potential adoptive parent, but whatever. When he shows the potential parents his invention book, they are impressed, but he tries to take out his new Peanut Butter and Jelly machine (which they tell him to stop), but he does not listen, and it gets all over them, and the man has an allergic reaction.
So after things go badly, he tells Mildred that now that he is turning 13, there is a slim chance of him being adopted, and he decides that he does not want to be adopted cause he is going to find his mother. We get a montage song of him working on the invention, blowing off interviews, and using his roommate and continuing to be inconsiderate of him, because he wants to work on his machine.
We get some filler at the Science Fair, and Lewis shows up to show off his machine, which would cause it to fail because the Bowler Hat Guy (Steve Anderson) has his mechanical hat to sabotage it. Wilbur (Wesley Singerman) shows up to warn Lewis about the Bowler Hat Guy, and follows Lewis to the rooftop of his home, and tells him that he is a time cop from the future. Lewis tells him to go away, and that he gives up on inventing, and yada, yada, yada, the typical “I give up” scene.
So Wilbur takes him to 20 years in the future, and it looks like everyone’s idea of the future.
Everyone in the 1980s thought that the 2000s-2010’s would look like the future in this movie, but that proved to be false, and everyone from the 1960s thought the 1980s-1990s would be the future in this movie either, but that failed. Point is, the future WILL NOT look like that in 2037. So Wilbur wants him to fix his memory scanner so he could help the future, but Lewis refuses, because he got it rough but if he listened to others, he would not have gotten it so rough and wants Wilbur to take him to his birth mother to stop her from giving him up. Like that won’t have consequences. So they fight over the wheel, and crash the time machine, which is a problem since there is only two of them, and one of them is crashed, and the other one is owned by Bowler Hat Guy. We get some useless banter about them not trusting one another, but Lewis agrees to fix the machine, if Wilbur takes him to his mother.
He goes to some board room meeting with Lewis’ machine, and does not even know what is, how to use it, and what is his goal with it (outside of ruining Lewis), so long story short, he makes an ass of himself. Because that fails, him and his mechanical hat decides that they need to kidnap Lewis. The boys carry the time machine back to the garage of Wilbur’s house, where Lewis can fix the machine because his mother never goes in the garage, and his father is on a business trip until the next morning. Apparently Wilbur was supposed to find the stolen time machine, but manages to not find it, and ruin the last one.
Wilbur forces Lewis to wear a fruit hat because his hair would be a dead giveaway
that Lewis is the younger version of Wilbur’s father. Lewis manages to sneak away out of the garage, and is introduced to a bunch of Wilbur’s family in the weirdest way possible. They try to throw us some humor here, but it really misses the mark, and it does make the tone of the film shift, and not in a good way. You do not get proper introductions to all of these characters that were are supposed to care for, and we are introduced to them in about 35 minutes into the film.
Bowler Hat Guy went back 30 years ago to speak to Gober, which is him 30 years prior, and tells him that he needs to hold onto to his anger from the humiliation of losing the baseball match, and Lewis ruining his life. WOW, his grown up self LITERALLY ruined HIS OWN life 30 years ago, and it does not really make that much sense, but it is always like this with the time travel stories.
So Wilbur forces Lewis to fix the machine, and when Lewis struggles, Wilbur keeps on telling him to “Keep Moving Forward”, and explains that it is his father Cornelius’ motto, and we go in depth about his company. Lewis fails to fix the machine, and soon enough, the family and Lewis are at dinner. He is all sad, and Wilbur is glaring at him, but Franny asks Lewis where he is from, and he lies horribly.
So after Lewis fails to repair something, they all congratulate him on his failure, and throws a drink on themselves as a celebration. Lewis says he would want a family like them, and Wilbur tells Franny that he is an orphan. They also want him to take his hat off, but Wilbur prohibits it, since then they will realize that Lewis is Cornelius from 30 years ago. Bowler Hat Guy goes in a time machine to get a dinosaur to attack the house, and we get this supposedly funny dino fight with him and the entire family.
The Robinsons and Lewis have this UBER special bond after spending an hour at the max with one another, and they ask Lewis to become a Robinson, but Wilbur tips his hat off, which shocks the entire family and they recognize him. Franny tells Lewis that he has to go back, and Wilbur ruined a lot. Lewis says that he still wants to see his mother, and Wilbur tells her that he was never going to do it, angering Lewis and the entire family of the trouble he caused, with the stolen/broken time machines, interfering with time, and lying to Wilbur.
Bowler Hat pops off as Lewis runs off, and he goes with him in anger. They end up at Bowler Hat’s liar, where Lewis fixes the machine that Bowler stole from him, and long story short, it is revealed that Lewis IS Cornelius Robinson, and that Bowler Hat IS Goob. He goes on and on about his delusional sob story about no one wanting to adopt him and everyone hating him (in reality, it was because he was a demon in his interviews, and ignored everyone), and that he joined a robotic hat Cornelius created to take him down. Lewis returns to the Robinson house, where Wilbur tells him that he needs to fix the time machine, and that he is his father, so he can do it, and that he himself (Wilbur) screwed up, and yada, yada, yada. The typical motivational speech.
Everything goes awry when Bowler Hat takes the machine to the corporate managers, and the mechanical hat changes the future, and completely destroys the town after he gets rid of Bowler Hat, so Lewis fixes the time machine, and goes back to when bowler is about to sign the contract, and tells him that the hat is using him, and will dispose of him after it is done with him. Lewis than says that he will never invent the hat, and it disappears. WHAT? This does not really make sense, because you cannot say something will not exist and it disappears. Bowler is taken back to the house with the time machine, and he is sad about the hat using him, and not being his friend. I really hate how they ended things with him. He just runs off. How do you close an arc with a villain like that?
Wilbur takes Lewis back after he says goodbye to his family. Wilbur takes him back to 1995 when he sees his mother give him up to the adoption home. But old Lewis says he never gets to see his mother. She leaves, and HE is the one that knocks the door before he leaves. So he is returned to 2007, and runs to the baseball game to tell Goob to wake up and to catch the ball, which he does, and his team likes him. He rushes to the science fair, and his experiments works. Apparently one of the judges ends up as his adoptive parents, and he meets the younger Franny (the girl with the frogs, and says that frogs can sing). They adopt him, he moves into the Robinson house, and the ending song is pretty nice.
The characters…………….I do have some issues with them. We do not get much time to know or to feel anything deep for the Robinson family, as they are all used as pathetic jokes, and do not appear as much as they need to be, and the main characters are not much to brag about either to be very honest.
The other characters are so minor and unimportant, that there is not even a need to discuss them.
The animation in this film is a huge improvement from Chicken Little. I can definitely see Pixar’s influence in the animation, though there is still a long way to go. Some of the backgrounds of the futuristic world looks really good, and the textures on the humans are great. I do like the bold and bright colorings in the animation. The human characters look really nice when it comes to texture and all of that, though the actual designs are not the best at all.
The music is not that memorable, but when we are at the somber and sad moments, it really does add more to it. I cannot say that I remember the score that much though, and that it has an overly future-ey theme to it. the final song is really nice though, which is ironic since I cannot even find the title for it.
Reception at Release
When it was released on March 30th, 2007 (it premiered on the 23rd in Britain), it did not do well. This probably had to do with the fact that it was supposed to come out in theaters in late 2006, but they pushed it back, leading it to be in theaters at a bad time. It made $25,123,781, and by the end of it’s run, it made $97,822,171 domestically, and $71,510,863 elsewhere, causing a worldwide total of $169,333,034. I could not find the budget for this, but either way, this is not a good performance, and continued to show the company that the CGI was not the issue with their films, but the stories and the amount of gimmicks that were in it.
It got mixed to positive reviews. Some liked it for it’s charm and fast pace, while others despise it for being filled with a bunch of gimmicks, and the scattered plot that is all over the place.
It’s reception today is that it is forgotten about. I do not hear people bash on it ruthlessly, but if this film is brought off, they are either like “eh”, or “what is that?”, or “I don’t give a fuck about this movie”. It is seen as the very first film in the cannon to directly have Lasetter’s input, the first to be released under WDAS’ new name, and the film that helped increase the luck and quality of the studio (though they have a lot of ways to go still).
= 25.5/40 = 64%