Lewis (Daniel Hansen/Jordan Fry) is no ordinary orphan. Gifted with an inventor's genius, Lewis builds a machine that will sort through and show you memories locked in the mind. Taking advantage of a typical science project, Lewis just wants to remember what his mother looked like, but there are no easy answers even for geniuses. A mysterious man in a bowler hat sabotages his machine, and Lewis hits rock bottom believing himself a failure. Wilbur Robinson, a strange kid from the future, appears to whisk Lewis away in his time travel machine to find his lost invention... and the family he's always wanted.
The CGI animation here is just gorgeous. Crisp and vivid with eye-popping angle changes and realistic depth. I love the intensity and talent so evident in hand-drawn animation, but films like Robinsons bring out all the best of CGI. The wealth of quirky characters and total freedom to create a futuristic world really separates this film from recent Disney family films. Lewis is irresistible. Your heart automatically goes out to this kid who wants a family so badly that he becomes obsessed with creating a machine that will allow him to just see what his mother looked like. When he believes he's failed at that too, we know we aren't going anywhere until we see Lewis figure out that it is more important to live fully in the present and look forward eagerly to the future around the corner, than it is to wallow in the memories and disappointments of our past.
"Keep moving forward" is the undeniable message that Lewis' adventures reveal to the audience. Adults surely expect Lewis' as yet un-lived future to be far more important than the Lewis himself anticipates. We are sure the future that Wilbur introduces him to would not exist if it weren't for great achievements that Lewis must return to the past to accomplish. Like the infamous Back to the Future trilogy, it's a given that Lewis and his choices are more important than he realizes. Meet the Robinsons is a beautifully rendered inspiring adventure that introduces more complex personal issues and situations, like time travel, to kids in a way that also entertains older viewers.
Whether we perceive ourselves as having succeeded or failed at a given venture, the point is that neither should slow us down one bit. We must continue to strive for new horizons both personally, within our families, and as a society, our greater family circle. It is just as vital to develop and support healthy relationships within these three spheres as it is for us to remain motivated and optimistic. Mountains of silliness merge with these more evolved concepts to deliver a fantastic family film.
Deleted Scenes: This is the feature I look for on every DVD and I always enjoy seeing what bits were edited out either due to a change of direction or to keep pacing. There are some great leftovers here and each is introduced by the director with an explanation.
Game: It seems that most kids DVDs try to feature some sort of game. Here the idea is to sort out Lewis' future family tree, and bring a little order to the chaotic Robinsons in the process. It's adequate for what it is, a filler, but not the most impressive "game" I've ever seen as a special feature.
Music Videos: Two music videos are included in the extras. Thoroughly enjoyable with no outstanding qualities one way or the other.
Inventing the Robinsons: This was a really interesting look at how the Robinson family was created. Inspired by William Joyce's book, "A Day with Wilbur Robinson", we explore the similarities and differences between the book and the film as well as a few other inspirations that kept the Robinsons unique. A great feature!
Keep Moving Forward: My favorite extra, this is where we take a look at inventors who changed history and inspired future generations. There is a wonderfully optimistic and encouraging tone adopted here that is meant to get kids not only interested but excited about scientific possibilities.
Commentary: Director Stephen J. Anderson walks us through the Robinsons discussing various inspirations, story changes, and experiences that influenced the evolution of this film.
final thoughts: It's great to see Disney trying to reach for another level in family films. While this may not be their best film ever, it is certainly able to hold its own for entertainment and inspiration amongst some of their most beloved films, which says a lot. Clever, funny, with a pleasantly fluid animation style; at $16.99 on Amazon this is a solid family purchase. I really enjoyed the wealth of characters, the many flashes of humor, and little twists of fate.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8
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