I remember that Meet the Robinsons was supposed to come out late in 2006, but then got pushed back to early 2007. After reading up on the production of the film, it turns out that this was because when Pixar and Disney merged and John Lasseter was made chief of animation, he asked the director to make some changes, such as making the villain more menacing, changing the ending, and add the memorable dinosaur scene. When it was all said and done, 60% of the movie was scrapped and replaced. In the end, the scars of the troubled production showed, but the changes made give it an emotional core that redeems the film and nearly puts it in line with the great Disney films.
When I say that the scars are visible I mean that there are some parts of the film that ultimately do not fit with how things develop in the beginning and in the end. Parts of the middle of the film are chaotic, almost to the point of annoyance and it has some of the extremely low-brow humor that plagued the awful Chicken Little. Also, the villain, while not bad, is not what I would expect from Disney. Sure, there is the villain and the villain’s puppet, but when it was revealed who was the master mind behind it all I was like “Huh? Really?” It’s these things that keep it from greatness, but it is the emotion that makes it so good.
This movie takes on the topic of a kid that was abandoned by his mother and his struggle to get adopted as he gets older. Not a groundbreaking topic, but it is one of the more serious that Disney has taken on. Despite the time traveling mumbo-jumbo, the topic is well developed and it made the movie have a strong emotional core. A lot of this is the result of the animator’s great work with the characters, as well as the performances from the actors. Every time I watch it, I have tears running down much cheeks by the end. I don’t know why, but despite the chaos, it gets to me.
In terms of animation and the technical side of things, it is fantastic. The animation is a serious improvement from Chicken Little. The character design could have been a lot better, but the environments the characters inhabit are extremely creative and colorful. Danny Elfman crafted an nice and unintrusive score that works with the film really well, etc. I can’t really complain about the overall production.
Meet the Robinsos hits all the right emotional notes, but the movie is kind of a mess. Still, it is extremely enjoyable, and almost one of the best Disney has done.