Meet The Robinsons

First-time feature director Stephen J. Anderson's ambitious animated feature is a barrage of pop-culture jokes, time-travel high jinks and plucky orphans that's as confusing as it sounds, and riddled with plot holes to boot. Orphaned, 12-year-old brainiac Lewis (voices of Daniel Hansen and Jordan Fry) has a knack for inventing things. His creations don't...read more

Reviewed by Angel Cohn
Rating:

First-time feature director Stephen J. Anderson's ambitious animated feature is a barrage of pop-culture jokes, time-travel high jinks and plucky orphans that's as confusing as it sounds, and riddled with plot holes to boot.

Orphaned, 12-year-old brainiac Lewis (voices of Daniel Hansen and Jordan Fry) has a knack for inventing things. His creations don't always turn out right, but his never-say-die spirit just sends him back to the drawing board whenever an idea goes kerflooey. After a string of failed attempts to get adopted — 124, to be precise — he resolves to construct a memory scanner that will allow him to pull up memories of the mother who left him on the orphanage doorstep as an infant. Pity his sweetly sports-addicted roommate, Goob (Matthew Josten), who can't sleep when Lewis starts pulling all-nighters to finish his invention before the big science fair. When the big day finally arrives, Lewis is approached by time-traveler Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman), who's come back from the future in a desperate bid to stop the mysterious Bowler Hat Guy (Stephen J. Anderson) from stealing Lewis' invention and claiming it as his own. Lewis has trouble believing that Bowler Hat Guy stole the Robinson family's time machine just to make off with a scanner that doesn't even work. In hopes of convincing the understandably skeptical Lewis, Wilbur brings him to the not-so-distant future, which backfires when Lewis decides he'd rather go back in time and meet his mother. In the ensuing tussle, the machine crashes. Now the mismatched pair must figure out how to repair their vehicle and get Lewis back to his own time so he can stop Bowler Hat Guy. If only Lewis hadn't met the Robinsons, who distract him from the task at hand!

Anderson has the advantage of a fine ensemble — including Angela Bassett, Laurie Metcalf, Nicole Sullivan, Adam West and Tom Selleck (whose inclusion facilitates a cute, recurring Magnum P.I. sight gag) — but the convoluted, disjointed story jettisons all accepted rules of time travel and just does its own thing. Sometimes it's a sweet tale about an orphan learning the meaning of family; sometimes it's a vision of a future chockablock with wise-guy frogs, dinosaurs and robots; and sometimes it's a race against (and across) time to save the world from Bowler Hat Guy. Younger children probably won't be bothered by such details as a time machine left in the wrong era — they'll be too busy watching the colorful animation and wishing their family had an octopus butler and got their pizza delivery via rocket ship. Adults, however, should take heed: Leave your sense of logic at the door or you'll be driven to distraction by annoying "How come... " questions.

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