Making the Grades
The marriage between Disney and Pixar may prove to be a happy one. Already the union is producing promising offspring in the world of animation. Resurrecting old footage of Mickey and the gang, Disney, in the style of Pixar, even offers a short before the feature film. But that's not the only thing thatÕs being resuscitated -- in Meet the Robinsons, there's a whole lot of charm, an ingredient that seems to have been missing lately.
Based on a book by William Joyce, Lewis, a tow-headed orphan (voice by Daniel Hansen and Jordan Fry), constantly tinkers in his room, much to the aggravation of his sleep-deprived roommate, Goob (voice by Matthew Josten), who is kept awake by the racket. Sometimes his ideas work, but mostly they don't. Unfortunately, one of those don't times happens during the Science Fair. Frustrated when his latest gadget fails to work, the little genius is ready to throw in his tools and call it quits.
Then a time traveling visitor offers to show him a peek at the future. With all systems go, Lewis and his new companion Wilbur (voice by Wesley Singerman) are propelled into a space-age era and into a family of characters as quirky as any you'll find. However, meeting Wilbur's relatives isn't the only thing the boys are up to. A dastardly villain, the Bowler Hat Guy (voice by Stephan J. Anderson), has stolen Lewis' science project and Wilbur is adamant they get it back.
Luckily, other than a group of genetically altered singing frogs, this movie is all about people and the kind of relationships that hold them together. For once, the orphanage where Lewis lives isn't a dull, dreary place with mean caretakers. Instead, the director, Mildred (voice by Angela Bassett), is a gentle soul who loves the children almost as her own. Other adults, including Lewis' science teacher, are depicted as compassionate people who encourage the young boy's talents. And other than some misdemeanors worthy of grounding, the kids in this film are the kind most parents could stand to have around. Even the usual portrayal of bodily functions and potty humor is thankfully avoided.
While younger viewers might find some scenes of the future a bit frightening, most of the cartoon violence -- exploding inventions, biting ants, a family food fight and an attacking dinosaur -- is no scarier than regular Saturday morning fare.
Best of all, the film promotes taking responsibility, even when things don't turn out. Rather than seeing setbacks as something to be avoided, the Robinsons celebrate them as a chance to learn. And fortunately that's just the kind of bolstering any budding inventor needs to triumph.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Meet the Robinsons.
Despite his perseverance, Lewis experiences lots of setbacks. How do the Robinsons feel about his mistakes? Why do they say a person learns more from failures than successes? What other inventors have experienced obstacles?
What does it mean to take responsibility for your life? How can others encourage you to be accountable for your actions? What can happen when a person chooses to blame others instead?
Why does Lewis want to find his mother? What other people serve as role models for Lewis? What important qualities do these people have and in what ways do they become like his family?