Meet young Lewis, a bright little orphan with a shock of yellow hair and eyes almost as big and round as his glasses. Lewis has one passion in his brief lonely life and that's inventing cool things that never quite work the way they're supposed to (got to love that automatic PB&J shooter). Up until now, when faced with failure, Lewis has simply given up and moved on to the next weird idea, but at the big science fair his failure makes him want to quit forever. Somehow this all feeds into the evil plans of "Bowler-Hat Guy," a snickeringly evil melodramatic villain from the future.
Whew! That's only part of the twisted and manic plotline. Meet the Robinsons features a storyline that tries to cover an awful lot of ground in a brief running time. One minute it's a heartbreaking meditation on parenting, the meaning of friendship, and the embarrassment of having a weird (okay, very weird) family and then abruptly concentrates on slapstick silliness and then, before you can catch your breath, it's a "Back to the Future" style lesson on quantum theory (time travel). Oh, and there are singing frogs, too.
Adapted from the brief but imaginative picture book "Meet Wilbur Robinson," this flick is credited to no less than seven screenwriters and the resulting film is fast and fun, but is also disjointed and a bit exhausting. All told, Meet the Robinsons is about average for computer animated kiddie fare. Which means it's good for a laugh, keeps the kids entertained, but isn't really memorable.
Unless you watch it in 3-D...
In select cities with special digital screens, Meet the Robinsons can be viewed in state-of-the-art 3-D. The glasses don't cause headaches, the effect is understated and enveloping, and the Jimmy Neutron meets Dr. Seuss future world is a fun place to be immersed for 90 minutes. For the first time since those cardboard red-and-blue 3-D specs hit in the '50s, 3-D just might become the technology that brings people back to the movie theater. Perfectly forward-thinking for such a futuristic family film.
Parents take note:
Meet the Robinsons is rated G, but really young kids will find it dull. Until the dinosaur appears (the best joke in the movie, ruined by the trailer), then it might be a bit frightening for kids under 5. Older kids will like the challenging storyline and bizarre sense of humor and style, though. And everyone will love the 3-D, if they're lucky enough to have a digital theater nearby.