Monday, April 23, 2007

Keep Moving Forward

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Oddly enough, this quote from Walt Disney himself is the very satisfying ending to a very satisfying little film,
Meet the Robinsons. And I say "Oddly enough" because the the film itself is an interesting blend of newfangled sci-fi ideas & old school Disney storytelling. It's kind of like going down a new path & an old path all at the same time.

This is from the Walt Disney computer animation unit, who previously gave us
Dinosaur (blech) and Chicken Little (ok)... which means that the animation, while very good in parts, is not up to Pixar level (esp. with some of the more "normal" characters). There are, however, moments of magical quality - the first view of the future springs to mind, as does a later "scary" sequence involving the real villain(s) of the film. (I'm trying as hard as I can not to put any spoilers in here!)

There's a number of very Disney-ish things in the film:
  • a kid without parents
  • a surrogate family
  • really scary stuff that isn't TOO scary (I'm still working through my childhood trauma of watching the boys on Pleasure Island turn into donkeys -man, Pinnochio is a rough film for a 6 year old kid!)
  • a G rating that isn't hiding PG jokes (this is probably a topic for another post, but Pixar managed to sneak a couple of jokes into Cars - a film I adore - that I don't want to explain to my boys quite yet: "give my 2 lefts lug nuts" and "Piston Cup?" "He did what in his cup?"... and don't even get me started on Shrek as children's entertainment... sigh.)

Finally, as a big fan of William Joyce's books (I especially like Dinosaur Bob, George Shrinks and Wilbur Robinson), I'm pleased as punch with how the animators at Disney captured the spirit of the original book and yet still managed to flesh out a meatier story. (There's no real villain in the book - it's basically a search for Grandpa's teeth and a chance to let Joyce go nuts with his retro sci-fi/fantasy art style.)

Let me chase a couple of rabbits here:

  1. For a similar William Joyce adaption pleasure, check out PBS' version of George Shrinks, which builds on a very simple picture book and manages to make one of my favorite TV cartoon shows. I'm really miffed our local PBS station isn't showing it anymore... it's one that Braeden loved and I actually enjoyed watching with him.
  2. William Joyce writes wonderful "boy" books - what young man wouldn't want to take home a dinosaur, or have a full-sized train running through the house, or shrink down to mouse size & fly a toy airplane around the house? (I'm not being sexist - I'm guessing little girls would like this stuff, too... but we don't have any of those around our house.)

OK, back to the movie. It's also being shown in Disney 3D... but Braeden wasn't willing to go see it that way. He was afraid that it would be too scary. (I'm going to try & convince him - both because [a] I want to see it, and [b] it'll be good prep for seeing Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and It's Tough To Be A Bug when we go to the Disneyland Resort in December.)

It's received a wide variety of reviews - everything from "wowsa!" to "worst. disney. movie. ever." (It had a 65 on But I like what Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times said:

Though state-of-the-art technically, I think you'll find there's a healthy, old-fashioned feel to this movie -- one that will make you walk out of the theater feeling satisfied, and all warm 'n fuzzy inside.

Yep, that pretty much covers it for me. Go see the thing before it's out of the theaters!

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