As a child, Lewis was abandoned on the doorstep of an orphanage. Longing to be part of a family, the boy grows to become an exceedingly creative inventor, though his precociousness constantly destroys his opportunities to be adopted, especially thanks to frequent prototype malfunctions. In the hope of being reunited with his real mother, he decides to create the Memory Scanner, which will aid him in jogging his few, fleeting memories of her. During the science fair, where he plans to unleash his masterpiece, the mysterious Wilbur Robinson, a boy who claims to be from the future, tries to convince him to perfect the glitching machine – all while they both must dodge the evil machinations of the Bowler Hat Guy. Unwittingly whisked away to the future, Lewis meets a crazy assortment of characters who compose the Robinson family – before he embarks on a time-traveling adventure of a lifetime.
“Meet the Robinsons” scores big with its huge potpourri of lovable or mischievous characters and the remarkable designs for each. The Robinson family consists of numerous roles, many of whom receive small amounts of screen time, but make every second worth it. From Grandpa Bud, who has the most purely comedic sequences (in which he searches for his missing teeth), to the suave family robot Carl, to Lefty, the one-eyed, purple octopus butler, the group is individually unique, funny, and most importantly, brought to life with exquisite idiosyncrasies and suitable voice acting (including the talents of Harland Williams, Tom Selleck, and Adam West). As each conceptualization exhibits humor, cuteness, or weirdness, animation techniques such as squash-and-stretch are used to great effect; the outrageous looks smartly match the cartoonish movements.
Aside from the animation itself, at which most recent computer-animated films have excelled, an amusing plot here puts “Meet the Robinsons” a notch ahead of the current competition (Disney has underperformed with their last couple of releases). Where other projects fall short on a compelling narrative, even if they flabbergasted with realistic environmental renderings, this picture manages to accomplish both. The futuristic setting provides for some amazing innovations, including instant buildings and bubble transportation devices, residing in a wondrous world that fuzes stylized animation with top-notch CG modeling.
Vibrant and realistic, the movements of the characters and photorealism of the backgrounds become increasingly more life-like as technology advances and minute details are scrutinized by gifted artists. Still making use of stylized human characters, which are notably more appropriate than attempting photorealistic models, “Meet the Robinsons” employs exaggeration and caricatured formulations to bring to life the high-energy family members, each complementing the reflections, refractions, and textures that give the imagery its impressive three-dimensionality. This is furthered by Disney Digital 3D (the film will be presented on more than 600 screens across the country in this revolutionary new digital format), previously utilized by “Chicken Little” and Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” re-release, though neither were able to make full use of the presentation. But it’s not all about appearances; with innovation, creativity, and heartfelt storytelling, “Meet the Robinsons” is solid entertainment for audiences of all ages.