Reviewing the Reviews: 'Meet the Robinsons'

Robinsons_lReady for another serving of Chicken? Meet the Robinsons, the second effort from Disney’s non-Pixar computer-animation unit that debuted with 2005’s Chicken Little, is out today, and many reviewers are noticing the similarities: eye-grabbing visuals, a gee-whiz sci-fi storyline, and a relentless pace.

"There’s a frantic, woo-woo, ding-dong, look-HERE-no-look-THERE! attention-shattering disorder to Meet the Robinsons," says EW‘s Lisa Schwarzbaum. "Jeez, this thing is one bumpy ride." Agrees The Charlotte Observer‘s Lawrence Toppman, "Most of Meet the Robinsons plays like a movie made by ADD adults for ADD children."

Not minding the pace so much is Variety‘s Todd McCarthy, who writes, "Unlike some frantic animated efforts, Robinsons is never exhausting, but neither is there anything resembling a dull moment." Damning with faint praise, Jonathan Rosenbaum of The Chicago Reader writes, "It’s striking not for its originality but for its energy in juggling familiar elements." One difference between Robinsons and most recent cartoons that pleases the Seattle Post-Intelligencer‘s Gianni Truzzi: "There’s not a single poop joke heard."

addCredit(“Meet the Robinsons: Disney”)

Many reviewers think that the movie’s 3D visuals are not just there to prop up an unremarkable story and are in fact used skillfully. "Past 3D movies have leaned toward ‘gotcha’ gimmickry, but Meet The Robinsons takes a large step toward making 3D a sustainable format, the CinemaScope of tomorrow," proclaims Scott Tobias of The Onion AV Club, "A lot of times with this technology, it’s too easy to zing and fling things at the audience, simply because you can. It’s gratuitous — and yes, we’re talking to you, Robert Rodriguez. The most recent Spy Kids movie is a prime example of this," writes Christy Lemire of the Associated Press. But in Robinsons, she says, "the effects spring organically from the story. You feel like you’re immersed in a complete universe." The Washington Post‘s Ann Hornaday says the movie "has a couple of clever tricks that make it worth wearing those dumb, uncomfortable glasses. But this would be as delightful and attractive a production without the gimcrackery."

Others think the movie falls far below Disney’s and Pixar’s usual standards. "Meet the Robinsons is surely one of the worst theatrically released animated features issued under the Disney label in quite some time," says A.O. Scott of the New York Times. "It’s hard to think of Meet the Robinsons, the new sub-Pixar animated film from Disney, as much more than a stopgap measure until this summer’s Ratatouille," Dennis Lim writes in the Los Angeles Times. "Robinsons has one real connection to Uncle Walt: It makes you long for the good old days when Mickey and Minnie could simply crank a goat’s tail and play a happy tune," says The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt. "Cartoon madness shouldn’t be so much work."

Comments (47 total) Add your comment
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  • t-bone

    does anyone else laugh hysterically every time the dinosaur in the commercial says “i have a big head! and little arms!”? anyone? anyone? bueller?

  • Jim

    I laugh everytime I see that Dinosaur! I have seen that ad dozens of times and I still crack up everytime I see it!

  • Tad

    The dinosaur is the reason my wife wants me to take her to see this movie. As long as the dinosaur isn’t overused, the weird talk-sound should be reason enough to give the movie a chance. Hey, “big head, little arms” cracks me up, too!

  • Vicky

    The dinosaur in Meet the Robinsons’ is like Ice Age’s squirrel thing. And I have no problem with that cause I love that damn squirrel.

  • furry_tom

    When Gianni Truzzi says, “There’s not a single poop joke heard,” Does that mean they act out all their poop jokes?

  • t-bone

    thanks, i feel better now :)

  • t-rex

    I HAVE A BIG HEAD AND LITTLE ARMS

  • Jana

    OT: Since EW doesn’t allow comments on feature articles, I choose this movie-related one.
    How come the arrival time of my EW mag is in direct coorelation to the picture of the EW mag located on the bottom left of the EW main webpage??
    If EW does not update their webpage by noon Friday EST, then my EW mag arrives in the mail on Saturday. If EW updates their page after noon Saturday, then I get my EW mag on Monday!! This works 100% of the time. I can almost clock my day with EW, I can. Anyone else???

  • sarah

    I’m glad this movie has high energy. It’s better than when a movie has no energy (The Good Shepard, I’m talking to you). But, I gotta say, I’m more excited for Ratatouille than this.

  • Auriana

    Love the dinosaur in the commercials. As much as I love the computerized 3d animation, I still wish they would continue to create more traditional 2d features (I’m not counting the horrid direct to dvd releases).

  • t3hdow

    This film just looks stupid. Besides Pixar’s films, I have zero interest to watch any CG films in recent years, because most of them look so derivative and dull. This is no exception. I know Disney can do better than this junk.

  • escargot

    Jana – I’ve never noticed, but I’ll start paying attention. Mine shows up Fri, Sat, and sometimes Mon. I was thinking the mailman reads it before delivering – If the cover doesn’t interest him, I get it on Fri!

  • Tommy G.

    I’m a HUGE Disney animation fan, so I’ll see it strictly on principle. But for this CG attempt to measure up to Disney’s TRUE classics, it’s going to have to go a long way beyond pop culture Shrek-ish gags. Still, I’ll give it a chance before I completely bash it. But I guarantee it still won’t top genuine 2D animated Disney classics or the excellent storytelling of Pixar.

  • bg 17

    Hey Jana and Escargot, consider yourselves lucky. In Canada, I sometimes don’t see my mag until Wednesday, but usually Tuesday. By that time, I look at the What to Watch section and I’m thinking ‘I would have like to watched that, oh well’. I could count on one hand how many times it has shown up on Friday…oh those were happy days.

  • Stephanie

    It should be interesting but I am guessing that all the good jokes were in the trailer.

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