Ready for another serving of Chicken? Meet the Robinsons, the second effort from Disney’s non-Pixar computer-animation unit that debuted with 2005’s Chicken Little, is out today, and many reviewers are noticing the similarities: eye-grabbing visuals, a gee-whiz sci-fi storyline, and a relentless pace.
“There’s a frantic, woo-woo, ding-dong, look-HERE-no-look-THERE! attention-shattering disorder to Meet the Robinsons,” says EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum. “Jeez, this thing is one bumpy ride.” Agrees The Charlotte Observer’s Lawrence Toppman, “Most of Meet the Robinsons plays like a movie made by ADD adults for ADD children.”
Not minding the pace so much is Variety’s Todd McCarthy, who writes, “Unlike some frantic animated efforts, Robinsons is never exhausting, but neither is there anything resembling a dull moment.” Damning with faint praise, Jonathan Rosenbaum of The Chicago Reader writes, “It’s striking not for its originality but for its energy in juggling familiar elements.” One difference between Robinsons and most recent cartoons that pleases the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Gianni Truzzi: “There’s not a single poop joke heard.”
Many reviewers think that the movie’s 3D visuals are not just there to prop up an unremarkable story and are in fact used skillfully. “Past 3D movies have leaned toward ‘gotcha’ gimmickry, but Meet The Robinsons takes a large step toward making 3D a sustainable format, the CinemaScope of tomorrow,” proclaims Scott Tobias of The Onion AV Club, “A lot of times with this technology, it’s too easy to zing and fling things at the audience, simply because you can. It’s gratuitous — and yes, we’re talking to you, Robert Rodriguez. The most recent Spy Kids movie is a prime example of this,” writes Christy Lemire of the Associated Press. But in Robinsons, she says, “the effects spring organically from the story. You feel like you’re immersed in a complete universe.” The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday says the movie “has a couple of clever tricks that make it worth wearing those dumb, uncomfortable glasses. But this would be as delightful and attractive a production without the gimcrackery.”
Others think the movie falls far below Disney’s and Pixar’s usual standards. “Meet the Robinsons is surely one of the worst theatrically released animated features issued under the Disney label in quite some time,” says A.O. Scott of the New York Times. “It’s hard to think of Meet the Robinsons, the new sub-Pixar animated film from Disney, as much more than a stopgap measure until this summer’s Ratatouille,” Dennis Lim writes in the Los Angeles Times. “Robinsons has one real connection to Uncle Walt: It makes you long for the good old days when Mickey and Minnie could simply crank a goat’s tail and play a happy tune,” says The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt. “Cartoon madness shouldn’t be so much work.”