Week 47: Meet the Robinsons

Disney Decides to Keep Moving Forward

the future

Originally Released: 2007

What a breath of fresh air Meet the Robinsons must have been to those Disney loyalists who actually watched it at the time of its release in 2007. I think by this time, the general idea is that most people had pretty much left Disney animation for dead and had moved on to the bigger and better things coming from Pixar, Dreamworks, and others. Such was certainly the case for me. While I never missed a Pixar film opening weekend, I had skipped the Disney releases from 2004 all the way up to 2009 when The Princess and the Frog hyped me up with a promise of the return to tradition (and how did that go? Click right here!).

It turns out that I should have hopped back on the wagon in 2007, because Meet the Robinsons has as much heart as any Disney classic out there. Put simply, I love this movie.

awesome sauce

First of all, the movie’s sense of humor is totally the kind of humor I crave. I love the frogs and their homage to an old Looney Tunes classic. I love that the family has a “Japanese-dubbed” fight with spicy italian sausage in the middle of dinner. The bad guy is referred to almost all the way through the movie as “The Bowler Hat Guy.” There is a picture of Tom Selleck. There are just so many great comedic touches to this film.

One of the great moments in Disney animation history? Ok, probably not. But it is still pretty darn funny.

One of the great moments in Disney animation history? Ok, probably not. But it is still pretty darn funny.

The animation is leaps and bounds improved over Chicken Little. Visually, the film is bright and cheery, and the depiction of the future is one of the most encouraging to come out of Hollywood, despite being incredibly fantastical. But it adds to the atmosphere and overall theme of Meet the Robinsons.

bowler hat guy

Hello, The Bowler Hat Guy.

The characters are fun overall, and the ones that really matter have some good depth to them. The Bowler Hat Guy may not be one of the top Disney villains of all time, but what they do with him is a nice touch, and the twist in the end is something I wasn’t expecting at all.

This next aspect is more of a side note because it doesn’t really add to the movie directly, but I’ll mention it anyway. I’m a huge fan of the song “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas. When I first heard the song back in college, I remember many times putting this song on repeat, and constantly coming back to it for some reason. It is just a great song with a great message by a great singer. It is a great match for the movie.

Speaking of great messages, the most important thing I appreciate about Meet the Robinsons is its message. It is the icing on the cake that really makes this film hit home for me. In today’s world, more than ever we are in need of sources of encouragement. We all have our dark times where we wonder why we even keep trying to carry on with one thing or another. I don’t know anybody who at one point hasn’t felt like they were beaten down by false messages from schoolmates, associates, or even the media, telling them they are not smart enough, not good enough, that they will never amount to anything, etc. But the truth is, we all have huge potential if we have the right encouragement and if we know where to turn for inspiration. Every last one of us can make a difference for good.

great quote

This is a great quote. But it only explains half of the important message of this movie.

That, in effect, is the main takeaway of Meet the Robinsons. Nobody is a mistake. Each of us is is important and can have a positive effect on this earth. Even if we fail at times when we try to do good, we can pick ourselves back up and “keep moving forward.” In Hollywood, there is such a dearth of good, inspirational messages, that it took me by surprise to find that Meet the Robinsons contained such wise advice. But how glad I am that the advice is there.

Disney took its own advice when it made Meet the Robinsons. Disney could have hung things up after the debacles of Home on the Range and Chicken Little. But apparently some of the team listened to the ghost of Walt Disney telling them to keep moving forward, and as a result, 2007 and Meet the Robinsons marked the dawn of a new era of greatness that is currently occurring at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

goob

Black eyes happen. Just keep moving forward, Goob!

frogs

family-about time

Family. Isn’t it about time?

treasure planet

This guy would later set sail and eventually get stranded on Treasure Planet

 

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Week 39: Dinosaur

Welcome to the Time of Dinosaurs and…Lemurs?

Dinos in paradise

Originally Released: 2000

Ok, it’s time for an uncomfortable confession. This was the first time I have ever seen Dinosaur. Yes, I, the Disney enthusiast and author of this Disney-centric blog, have not seen every last film in the Disney Canon. But after watching this movie for the first time, I really can’t blame myself for missing out on it. I mean, there is only so much you can do plot-wise with herbivore dinosaurs. You know, without doing something crazy like adding modern lemurs into the mix and having them adopt a newly-hatched Dino baby. Now, I’m no expert on lemur evolutionary history, but I would venture to guess that lemurs did not coexist with these dinosaurs back in the day (if a reader happens to know the facts, please feel free to set the record straight). However, even with the inclusion of the lemur family, Dinosaur still manages to retread the typical dinosaur plights and feel like more of the same.

On the positive side, I will say that the visuals are very impressive. In the opening scene, I found myself thinking “wow, that looks so real and lifelike.” It turns out I was right. That is exactly the case. While the characters were all computer animated, the locales were filmed at various locations like New Zealand, the Utah/Arizona/Nevada desert, and more. Then the two were blended to come up with a hyper-realistic looking digital/real-life hybrid. It looks real good. In fact, I like the look of most everything in Dinosaur, especially on Blu-ray.

Dinos and Lemurs unite

Is it Lemur’s best friend, or Iguanodon’s best friend? I’m confused…

To sum up the plot, it goes a little like this. Dinosaurs live in a beautiful green paradise. Lemurs do, too, but theirs is an isolated island paradise. But then this big comet comes (rather spectacularly) and destroys the paradise. All that is left is for the dinosaurs (and lemurs) to flee the paradise-turned-wasteland in search of their summer home, in hopes that it has not also been decimated by the comet. A long, hard trek through the desert ensues. Then, in a shocking turn of events, just as the dinosaur herd is about to reach its lush green sanctuary, the herd is ambushed by a vicious meat-eating Tyrannosaurus Rex! Luckily, our hero, the lemur-adopted Iguanodon, saves the day, and the herd reaches safety, until the Comet’s aftermath eventually ends dinosaur life as we know it. Ok, I made that last part up, but it is the most likely conclusion if a sequel were ever made.

Impact

This has to be the most brutal villain in the entire Disney Canon

Perhaps even more effectively, though, this tale can also be summarized in the six images that accompany this post. Beginning at the top of this post, just work your way down to capture the highlights of this film.

There, now you no longer need to worry about watching Dinosaur. Unless, of course, you are a Disney enthusiast like me. Then you have to watch it at least once. Just focus on the visual splendor and you’ll be just fine.

walking and walking

“Dinosaur children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked, and walked…” (if you get it, you get it)

T-rex...is a villain

Hmm, did anyone else not see this coming?

Paradise found

“We made it! Now we can enjoy our last remaining days before the Comet’s residual effects reach us.”