Meet the Robinsons
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Steve Anderson
scr Steve Anderson, Michelle Bochner, Daniel Gerson, William Joyce, Shirley Pierce
voices Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry, Angela Bassett, Laurie Metcalf, Wesley Singerman, Steve Anderson, Matthew Josten, Tom Selleck, Adam West, Harland Williams, Don Hall, Nicole Sullivan
release UK 23.Mar.07,
US 30.Mar.07
07/US Disney 1h41
Meet the Robinsons
Roads? We don't need roads: Lewis and Wilbur

bassett metcalf selleck

Meet the Robinsons At times hilariously wacky and deeply dramatic, this engaging adventure romp is entertaining from start to finish. Although adults may enjoy it a bit more than their kids.

Lewis (voiced by Hansen and Fry) is a 12-year-old orphan who creates imaginative inventions. Most of them, alas, don't work. But he keeps trying, with the goal of finally getting adopted. Then his latest contraption, designed to help him remember the brief time he spent with his mother as an infant, attracts an insidious villain (Anderson) from the future. And another time traveller, 13-year-old Wilbur Robinson (Singerman) takes Lewis into the future to sort out the ensuing chaos. But it's Wilbur's family that really makes Lewis' head spin.

Director Anderson and his army of cowriters take their time setting up the story, and their patience pays off as they fill the movie with colourful, unforgettable characters such as the caffeine addicted scientist (Metcalf), an over-pumped coach (Hall) and Lewis' bleary-eyed roommate (Josten). So by the time we meet the out-of-control Robinson clan, the film is free to leap into hyperdrive with a series of hysterically nutty sequences that arrive thick and fast, and propel the film right through to the surprisingly emotional conclusion.

Even when things slow down for some rather serious "use your imagination and never give up" moralising, the filmmakers keep us on board for the ride. The animators fill the frames with eye-popping imagery, sharpened up with detailed textures and reflections. The quality is almost on par with Pixar movies like Cars or The Incredibles and adds an intriguing sense of believability to the zany cartoon-like designs. Meanwhile, the vocal cast avoids stunt-casting gimmickry to create authentic characters who are thoroughly likeable.

Clearly, Back to the Future is a key reference point as well, with a snappy plot that demands close attention as it whizzes back and forth in the space-time continuum, touching on serious ideas and proposing some rather disturbing alternate realities. And the witty story twists are handled with rare subtlety and intelligence. In the end it may get a little weepy and inspirational. But it's so charming that we don't mind at all.

cert u suspense, some violence 4.Mar.07

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2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall