Review: 'Meet the Robinsons' isn't quite clever enough

“Meet the Robinsons” is a cheerful mess, a pretty good B movie, albeit with a first-class advertising budget.

If Disney is to catch up with Pixar (now that they are in the same bed) in the new genre of really good animated movies for children of all ages, “Meet the Robinsons” doesn’t do the job. In the cute-and-funny department, this one is only sort of cute and only infrequently funny. Does it have excellent architectural designs for Future World? Yes.

As to genuine children, supposedly the focus of the movie’s demographic thrust, will they appreciate this play on the “Back to the Future” stories with a dash of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “You Can’t Take It With You” pathos? One would tend not to think so.

The Robinsons are the once and future family of young, brilliant, innocent, resourceful Lewis, who started life — fairly recently — as an orphan (“awwww!”), and quicker than you can say Michael J. Fox arranging his future mother’s marriage (while fending off her pre-incestuous advances), our Lewis is calling his future wife “Mom.” Disney and family values: they go together. And that’s way more of the plot than you need — or want — to know.

Graphics, design, voice work are all impressive, except for three characters: Bowler Hat Guy, Tallulah and Grandpa Bud sound awful, in a similar way. According to the credits, the three were voiced by Stephen J. Anderson, the film’s director (whose previous opus maximus was “Toto Lost in New York” — remember? I thought not). Might the excessive advertising budget not have left enough in the kitty to cover the cost of all “voice talent”?

Meet the Robinsons **½

Starring Angela Bassett, Daniel Hansen, Tom Selleck, Harland Williams, Adam West, Tom Kenny, Ethan Sandler

Written by Michelle Spitz

Directed by Stephen Anderson

Rated G

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

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