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Capt. Sage's Review of
Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons is an excellent motion picture that stands out, in my mind, for its excellent voice acting and writing. It's brimming over with astoundingly impeccable comedic timing. The movie is based on sci-fi, particularly time travel, but manages to handle these elements understandably and always with the aim of creating a good story (or a good laugh.)

The beginning sets the tone well, showing us the ordinary world of Lewis, an orphan who desperately wants to invent extraordinary technology and have a family, but repeatedly fails either to invent anything workable or find a loving home1,2. More than providing us simple sympathy for the protagonist, the beginning actually helps establish several characters and themes that will be used throughout the rest of the movie3.

The movie takes off and doesn't stop. Its main drivers are the giant and eccentric Robinson family, and the antagonist Bowler-Hat Guy. The nonstereotypicalness of both are used to great comedic effect. The Robinson family is used for a hilarious look at what we think our future will be, and turns our expectations of normal life upside down. Lewis plays a remarkable straight man, not too cynical and not too gullible, while the family performs off-the-cuff one-liners and comic mayhem in a mostly understandable way. One of my few complaints about the movie was that it was too complicated to keep track of who was related to who, but the movie doesn't lose sight of the main relationships of friendships between the characters4.

Bowler Hat Guy is a very nonstereotypical antagonist, perfectly played with an excellent villainous voice, when he's really rather uncertain and incompetent on his own. The movie manages some wonderful parodying of villainry, as Bowler Hat Guy concocts diabolical schemes in an evil voice, then realizes they're impractical and silly, like most diabolical schemes are.

The movie has a conclusion for Bowler Hat Guy, and each of the characters, as well as fully exploring each of its themes, and a few moral issues to boot5.

"Meet the Robinsons" is an excellent film, worth seeing simply for its wonderful comedic timing and writing, and when one considers the engaging storyline, it's well worth the viewing.

SPOILERS

In fact, the beginning was so normal that I was actually wondering whether Wilbur would indeed turn out to be simply crazy instead of the obvious sci-fi movie conclusion that he was from the future. That this movie could actually present reality well enough for me to doubt the cliche speaks to its ability to avoid cliches. The movie can also use cliches well- by totally inverting them for an excellent laugh. For example, there was the hilarious scene in which Lewis realizes that Wilbur is not, in fact, a time cop- he's been waving around a tanning salon coupon as a badge!

Superficially, the story almost seemed to start out like Harry Potter- there's a bespectacled orphan who wants a family, and he's about to go on an adventure. In reality, there are enough dissimilarities to make Lewis and his pathos stand on their own merits. Lewis is in a supportive orphanage and he wants his real family, unlike Harry, who lives with negligent relatives and wants someone else's family. Lewis already goes to school, where most of the first Harry Potter book was about Harry enrolling in and then going to school. Lewis also has a roommate and friend from the normal world. Harry sleeps in a closet without room for a roommate and has no friends except for those ones he acquires from the exotic world he visits.

What characters and themes, you ask? Well, the characters of Lewis, Goob, and Wilbur most obviously. The character of Franny is also hinted at, though at this point in the movie we don't yet see its significance (as one person close to me noted, Franny and Wilbur's interaction at the science fair was very clever, even though it could only be appreciated in retrospect.)

The themes that were established were Lewis' frustration with his inventing failure, and his despair. Another theme that was established was the need for second chances.

On the other hand, the complex family relations and oddities resulted in a stunningly executed rapid-fire comedy routine, one of the highlights of the film.

Instead of having a character lie to get out of trouble, the lies in this movie, like those in real life, tended to get the characters into more trouble, and cause other characters to lose trust in them. I appreciate this film's honest look at lying's consequences.