Last year, no film annoyed me more than All The Kings Men, deathly dull remake of the Robert Penn Warren book, which had already been filmed serviceably. What was wrong with it was an absence of life, and a collection of heritage performances (Sean Penn, Jude Law and Tony Hopkins) which belonged in different films. But more than that, there was a general feeling that the film itself was worthless. It was redundant due to the book and previous film, but cynicism also propped up an idea of a literary classic + topical politics = OSCARS!


The same cannot quite be said about Meet The Robinsons: though there is still a cynical worthlessness which stinks out the entire film. There is a ropey sense of moralism stapled with poor pacing and a ropey plot which meant even the target demographic (attention starved hyperactive eight year olds) were thoroughly annoyed by it. Disney (for they are responsible for this day-glo mess) made a tactical error when bundling up a Mickey/Donald/Goofy Silly Symphony with the film. I hate the Silly Symphonies, they are humourless repetition of bad jokes with the one good Disney character (Donald) relegated to minor roles. But next to this tedious oompah trad cartoon, the empty whizz of the digital Meet The Robinsons looked hopelessly short on characterisation.

The plot of Meet The Robinsons concerns an orphaned kid Lewis who is desperate to be adopted. British audiences well acquainted with Tracy Beaker will be aware of the emotions such a storyline can rustle up, none of which Meet The Robinsons manages by virtue of making Lewis thoroughly annoying. His sure-fire way of getting adopted is to prove his eligibility by inventing useless items which don’t work. The humourous sight gag of a man nearly dying of a peanut allergy induced anaphylactic shock is the highpoint of the first half hour.

So for no discernible reason, Lewis decides to trace his birth mother who gave him up, by inventing a mind reading device. And then a bland kid from the future warns him of a Bowler Hatted Bad Guy, and then we wind up in the most poorly conceived future one can imaging for nonsensical hi-jinks. About forty minute sin we actually get to meet said Robinsons in a sequence which is about as horrible as film can get. Roll call in less than a minute of a weird and wacky family (all single note, single gag characters) who don’t matter to the plot, talk over each other and are just plain annoying. In the picture above I could probably name about three of the character, and certainly can’t explain why most of them look the way they do. After more time-travel, a lesson is learned (that inventing is indeed the best way to get adopted) and usage of a simple time paradox which would confuse any child: and it all ends. With a homily from that noted thinker Walt Disney himself.

Bland character design combines with stupid plotting and pacing which lurches from slow five minute set-up jokes to real actual rimshots. But its the digital animation which really galls. We have gone from the joys of Toy Story to this pap in ten years. And there will be another four or five ropey computer animated films this year. Meet The Robinsons makes the new TMNT movie look like Citizen Kane. At least the TMNT film uses its digital animation for a point (it could not be made in any other way. Except with rubber suits, and we’ve been there!) Clever, consistent character designs and well written (if simplistic) plotting makes TMNT roll along nicely. Get the script right and the rest might follow. CG is a tool. Here the tools were everyone who made Meet The Robinsons.