Boy genius Lewis gives up hope of retrieving his latest invention, which was stolen by Bowler Hat Guy, then a young time-traveler named Wilbur Robinson arrives on the scene to whisk Lewis away in his time machine. The boys spend a day in the future with Wilburs eccentric family and uncover an amazing secret at the same time.
Meet the Robinsons is a 2007 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures on March 30, 2007. The 47th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics was released in standard and Disney Digital 3-D version. The film is very loosely based on characters from the childrens book A Day with Wilbur Robinson, by William Joyce. The film originally had the same title as the book. The voice cast includes Jordan Fry, Wesley Singerman, Harland Williams, Tom Kenny, Steve Anderson, Laurie Metcalf, Adam West, Tom Selleck, and Angela Bassett. It was the first film released after John Lasseter became chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
In this animated adventure, brilliant preteen inventor Lewis creates a memory scanner to retrieve his earliest recollections and find out why his mother gave him up for adoption. But when the villainous Bowler Hat Guy steals the machine, Lewis is ready to give up on his quest until the mysterious Wilbur Robinson shows up on the scene, whisking Lewis to the future to find the scanner and his mom.
Lewis is an aspiring young inventor at an orphanage whose inventions have been scaring off potential parents. He decides that his mother, who abandoned him at the orphanage as an infant, is the only one who ever truly loved him and works on a machine to scan his memory to locate her. Taking his memory scanner to his schools science fair, Lewis meets Wilbur Robinson, a mysterious boy claiming to be a time cop from the future. Wilbur needs to recover a time machine that a man wearing a bowler hat has stolen. Lewis tries to demonstrate the scanner, but it falls apart, throwing the science fair into chaos. Upset, Lewis leaves while the Bowler Hat Guy, with the help of a robotic bowler hat named Doris, repairs and steals the scanner.
Wilbur meets Lewis at the orphanage and asks him to repair the scanner. Lewis agrees to do so only if Wilbur can prove he is telling the truth, which Wilbur does by taking them to the year 2037 in a second time machine. When they arrive, however, Lewis says he can use the time machine instead of the scanner, and he and Wilbur get into an argument and crash. Wilbur then asks Lewis to fix the time machine, but Lewis has another condition: Wilbur has to take him to visit his mother afterwards. Reluctantly, Wilbur agrees and hides Lewis in the garage. Lewis doesnt stay there for long, however, and ends up meeting the rest of the Robinsons except for Cornelius, Wilburs father, who is away on a business trip. Following Lewis, the Bowler Hat Guy and Doris unsuccessfully try to kidnap him. Meanwhile, the Robinsons offer to adopt Lewis, but change their mind when they learn that hes from the past. Wilbur admits to lying to Lewis about taking him back to see his mom, causing Lewis to run off in disgust.
Lewis then discovers that Cornelius Robinson is, in fact, a future version of himself, and that Wilbur is his future son. Lewis also finds out that the Bowler Hat Guy is a grown-up version of Lewis roommate, Michael "Goob" Yagoobian. Because he was always kept awake by Lewis doing his projects, Goob fell asleep during an important Little League game. After failing to make an important catch that cost their game, the teammates had beaten him up. Goob became so bitter as a result, that he was never adopted and remained in the orphanage long after it closed. Doris was "DOR-15", one of Lewis failed and abandoned inventions. They both blamed Lewis for their misfortunes and decided to ruin his career by stealing the memory scanner and claiming credit for it. Leaving Lewis behind, they take off with the scanner, drastically altering the future to a world minus Wilbur and dominated by Doris clones who mind control the human population into slavery. In a video camera, it is shown that Bowler Hat Guy is shocked by Doris takeover of everyone and is presumably killed by the Doris clones. Lewis repairs the second time machine, goes to confront Doris and destroys her by promising to never invent her, restoring the future to its Utopian self. After persuasion from Lewis, Wilbur tries to ask the adult Goob to join the family, but he has disappeared, apparently ashamed at what he has done.
Back in Wilburs time, Lewis finally meets Cornelius face to face. Cornelius explains how the memory scanner had started their successful career, which persuades Lewis to return to the science fair. Wilbur takes Lewis back, but makes one stop first: as he promised, he takes Lewis back to the moment when his mother abandoned him. Lewis nearly stops her from leaving his infant self at the orphanage, but decides not to, explaining to Wilbur that he already has a family.
Wilbur drops Lewis off in his own time and leaves. Lewis heads to the fair, but en route wakes up Goob just in time for him to make the winning catch, changing his future. Back at the fair, Lewis asks for one more chance to demonstrate his scanner, which this time succeeds. He is adopted by Lucille, one of the science fair judges, and her husband Bud, who nicknames him "Cornelius" and takes him to their home. As Lewis leaves, he turns and waves at Goob, who is also leaving the orphanage with a family of his own and a Little League trophy. The film ends with a quote by Walt Disney containing Lewis/Cornelius motto: "Keep Moving Forward."
Originally titled A Day with Wilbur Robinson, production began in June 2004, and was scheduled for a 2006 release. While the film was in production, Disney announced on January 24, 2006 that it would be acquiring Pixar, and as a result, John Lasseter became the chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. When he saw an early screening for the movie, he told the director Stephen Anderson that he did not find the villain scary or threatening enough, and suggested that he make some changes.
Ten months later, almost 60% of the film had been scrapped and redone. The villain had improved and was given a new sidekick, a dinosaur chase had been added, and the ending was changed.
Over 600 REAL D Cinema digital 3D-equipped theaters presented Disney Digital 3-D version of the film. The 3D version was preceded by the 1953 Chip n Dale 3D short Working for Peanuts. The final credits of the 3D version were left two-dimensional, except for the names of those who converted the film to 3D.
The DVD and Blu-ray versions were both released on October 23, 2007. Both versions feature 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, plus music videos, the "Family Function 5000" game, deleted scenes, and other bonus features. The DVDs audio commentary contains Andersons narration, occasionally interrupted by himself as the Bowler Hat Guy. The Blu-ray also includes uncompressed 5.1 audio and a BD-J game, Bowler Hat Barrage!. A 3D Blu-ray was released on November 8, 2011.
As of January 2008, the DVD had sold approximately 4 million copies.
The film received generally positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 66% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 136 reviews with an average score of 6.3/10. The sites critical consensus states "Meet the Robinsons is a visually impressive childrens animated film marked by a story of considerable depth." Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 27 reviews.
Realmovienews stated that it has "a snappy plot that demands close attention as it whizzes back and forth in the space-time continuum, touching on serious ideas and proposing some rather disturbing alternate realities. And the witty story twists are handled with rare subtlety and intelligence. In the end it may get a little weepy and inspirational. But its so charming that we dont mind at all". Danny Minton of the Beaumont Journal said that "The Robinsons might not be a family you want to hang out with, but they sure were fun to meet in this imaginative and beautiful 3-D experience". Andrew L. Urban of Australian Urban Cinefile said that "Walt Disney stood for fantasy on screen and this is a loving tribute to his legacy". Kyle Smith of the New York Post named it the 10th best film of 2007.
Conversely, A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote: "Meet the Robinsons is surely one of the worst theatrically released animated features issued under the Disney label in quite some time", while Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C" and said "This is one bumpy ride".
The film grossed $25,123,781 on its opening weekend, falling behind Blades of Glory. Over its theatrical run, it grossed $97,822,171 in the United States and Canada and $71,510,863 in other territories, totaling $169,333,034 worldwide.
The soundtrack album was released by Walt Disney Records on March 27, 2007. Contributors to the album beyond the Danny Elfman score include the Jonas Brothers, Rufus Wainwright, Rob Thomas, Jamie Cullum, The All-American Rejects, and They Might Be Giants. The Track "Little Wonders", recorded by Rob Thomas, has reached #5 on the Billboard AC chart.
All music composed by Danny Elfman, except as noted.
The song "This Much Fun" by Cowboy Mouth, which was featured in the trailer, was not featured in the film or on the soundtrack. The song "Theres a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" was originally from the Disneyland attraction General Electrics Carousel of Progress.
Disneys Meet the Robinsons video game is available from Buena Vista Games for PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo DS, and PC. The independent England-based company Climax Group developed their own adaption for the Game Boy Advance. Nintendo created a version of the movie for Game Boy Advance Video.
DisneyToon Studios originally planned to make a sequel to the film, tentatively titled Meet the Robinsons 2: First Date. But, when John Lasseter became Walt Disney Animation Studios new chief creative officer, he called off all future sequels DisneyToon originally planned, including sequels to Chicken Little and The Aristocats, and refocused on spin-off films and original productions.