Disney: Meet the Robinsons

Keep Moving Forward.

Walt Disney's 47th animated feature, released in March 2007 in standard and Disney Digital 3-D and based loosely on William Joyce's picture book A Day with Wilbur Robinsonnote  (though Joyce did have some creative input on the adaptation).

Follows the story of 12-year old orphan/child prodigy Lewis in his attempt to find a family, a journey that takes him 30 years into the future with the fast-talking Wilbur Robinson and in pursuit of the do-wrong, overgrown man-child Bowler Hat Guy and his evil, robotic bowler hat, hell bent on taking credit for Lewis' inventions.

Has some serious problems with Time Travel logic and yeah, it makes us scratch our heads. Despite that, it's one of the better non-Pixar Disney films in recent years. Pixar and Disney were fusing while this movie was being made. As John Lasseter's first effort in touching Disney's animated films since becoming its chairman, he looked at it after its first drafts were all completed and ordered 40% of it rewritten and reanimated. This could be a factor behind the film's positive critical reception as compared to its immediate predecessors. However, it was something of a commercial disappointment, not getting #1 sales in theaters even once.

The film had music by Danny Elfman. There was also a console game that served as a midquel that mostly averted The Problem with Licensed Games. The game's plot expands Wilbur's efforts in trying to get the stolen time machine back from Bowler Hat Guy. When arriving at the Science Fair though, he accidentally alters the timeline drastically just by opening the door into a student named Stanley's face. As a result, Stanley and another student, Lizzy, become dueling super-villains, and Wilbur has to get his own time machine back from their forces in order to go back and fix things.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Mom: Franny.
  • Adam Westing: Art.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The book is essentially the middle part of the movie with the searching for grandpa's teeth and the dinner. Time travel had no part in the book! A few things actually got cut from the book like several family members, a pillow fight and slumber party. The book itself was expanded shortly before the movie came out with stuff like the dinosaur and some totally new material that didn't even get to the movie like an indoor Snowball Fight.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: Little Doris. To quote Bowler Hat Guy: "It's so cute!" ...For a spider-like robotic hat that can take control of animals' minds, that is.
  • Advertised Extra: The female goth student in the poster above only has two lines in the film and appears for only about 10 seconds! Many of the Robinson family members were featured prominently in the promotional materials yet are basically background characters with no handle on the story.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Doris, the hat gone rogue.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Tiny the Tyrannosaur, once the Mini Doris controlling him is removed.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The film uses "Hitomi Hiraite" by Mitsuki as the Japanese theme song.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: All the Helping Hats. It is possible that each one is an exact copy of, or under the control of, the evil Doris.
  • Arc Words: "Keep Moving Forward". Shown at the end to be a part of a quote by Walt Disney.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • Carl lists the consequences of Wilbur leaving the garage door unshut — a time machine got stolen by Bowler Hat Guy, the time stream may now be altered irreparably, and someone took Carl's bike.
    • Wilbur's reasons for not adopting Bowler Hat Guy: "He stole our time machine, tried to ruin your future, and he smells like he hasn't showered in thirty years!"
  • Badass Family: Who else?
  • Bad Future: Doris rewrites her own future: one in which the "helping hats" have taken over the world and made all of humankind their mind-controlled slaves. Plus, the environment has become a heavily polluted industrial complex with tower-like structures in Doris' likeness.
  • Big Bad: Appears to be Bowler Hat Guy at first. It's really Doris, the bowler hat.
  • Big Fat Future: Averted. Uncle Joe is incredibly fat, but he's the only one in the future we see who is.
  • Big "NO!": When Lewis learns of Doris' rise to power.
  • Black Comedy: The Bowler Hat Guy's Dark and Troubled Past gets Played for Laughs.
  • Brand X: Bowler Hat Guy's binder features a cute sparkly unicorn with big eyes, which is sure to remind older viewers of something or other...
  • Break Up Make Up Scenario: Lewis and Wilbur.
  • Broken Aesop: This movie dedicated two lectures and a musical number to its Aesop, which makes it all the more jarring to see how clumsily it was handled. Keep Moving Forward implies learning from prior mistakes, however...
    • Lewis' peanut butter and jelly invention doesn't work the first time. 20 years later, it still doesn't work. You'd think the inventor would have worked out the kinks by then. No one seems to remark upon or volunteer to clean the huge mess it makes, either.
    • Wilbur keeps repeating the Robinsons' mantra, but his method of fixing his mistakes is to buck-pass them onto Lewis. Even Carl calls out on this more than once that Wilbur shouldn't be digging himself deeper, or there would be consequences. By the time Wilbur learns his lesson and comes clean, it's too late.
    • Wilbur gives Lewis a long lecture about all the prototypes Cornelius Robinson had to go through building the time machine, but he's missing the critical detail that each prototype had to improve on the last. (Compare Syndrome's Kronos montage from The Incredibles, which makes this very clear without words and in less time).
    • Lewis finds out about Doris' evil plan, and realizes that in the future, he invented Doris but rejected her for being disobedient, so dumped her in a failed inventions museum and forget about her. He uses a Temporal Paradox to say she never existed, instead of reminding himself in the future to improve Doris's programming and make her better, while subsequently dropping a baseball into Goob's hand so he doesn't actually have to apologize to Goob for being an inconsiderate roommate, effectively solving the main conflict of the movie by denying they ever happened as opposed to correcting them responsibly.
    • Meanwhile, the antagonist of the movie, Bowler Hat Guy, does take note of where his previous schemes had failed and addresses them accordingly in the next attempt. The reason he regularly fails to succeed is because he only thinks one step ahead of his current problem.
  • Buffy Speak: From Bowler Hat Guy. "All our hopes and dreams are dashed like the many pieces of a broken machiney thing..."
  • Bungling Inventor: Lewis at the beginning of the film.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Bowler Hat Guy aims to become one of these. He's not very good at it.
  • Car Fu: Done with a train.
  • Catch Phrase: Does Wilbur have one? That is an excellent question.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The tone of the movie drastically changes in the third act from being a quirky comedy to a surprisingly dark and heartwarming dramedy. Real Life Writes the Plot as Lassester ordered a large chunk of the script being rewritten.
  • Convenient Cranny: When the Big Bad brings a T-Rex into the future, it's unable to attack Lewis when he stands in the corner of a building.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Weaponizing one is how Lewis ends up defeating DOR-15.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Tallulah
  • Cyber Cyclops: Doris and all the humans enslaved by Doris in the Bad Future.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Bowler Hat Guy
    "I know! I'll turn him into a duck! Yes, yes it's so evil! ... Oh... I don't know how to do that... I don't really need a duck."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Goob is one until he takes the advice of his future self.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Dr. Krunklehorn says "One of your students may invent the next integrated circuit, or microprocessor, or integrated circuit... Oh wait, I said that already!" in her introductory scene. Justified since she is sleep deprived and only awake due to her caffeine patches.
  • Determinator: Cornelius Robinson. As Wilbur lets Lewis know, he keeps inventing until something works, even if he fails spectacularly hundreds of times in the process. His motto isn't "Keep Moving Forward" for nothing.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Pretty much Bowler Hat Guy's main defining characteristic. The first time it's a CEO. The second time it's a talking frog. Not enough? The third time it's Tiny the Tyrannosaur innocently lampshading it, finally causing Bowler Hat Guy to have a minor Villainous Breakdown.
    Tiny: "I have a big head and little arms! I'm just not sure how well this plan was thought through, Master." (Beat) "Master?"
    (Cut to Bowler Hat Guy repeatedly face-planting himself on the monitor.)
  • Disney Death: Carl
  • Doris The Hat Was The Mastermind.
  • Doorstop Baby: Lewis
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Aunt Petunia and Uncle Fritz.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Parodied when Bowler Hat Guy dramatically rips his clothes before Lewis to reveal he is still wearing the same baseball uniform that he used when he was Goob, Lewis' roommate at the orphanage.
  • Dystopia
  • Egopolis: The buildings in the Bad Future are all hat-shaped.
  • Emotionless Girl: Lizzy
  • Epic Fail: Bowler Hat Guy's attempt to pass off Lewis's invention as his own to the InventCo Board of Directors doesn't go according to plan. For one thing, he has Doris hover outside the windows and acting as his teleprompter, and when she has to hide to avoid being noticed, Bowler Hat Guy must claim that the sun is in his eyes, unintentionally causing the CEO to lower the blinds, sending him off the rails completely. Therefore his attempt to demonstrate the product doesn't go well at all because he doesn't know what does what, eventually resulting in him running the really comfy headphones all the way across the table to the CEO. When the timer runs out, the machine falls off his end and Bowler Hat Guy and the CEO end up wrapped together in the headphone cords.
    Bowler Hat Guy: So, where do I sign? [cuts to him being thrown out onto the street, followed seconds later by the box with the parts for his device]
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even Bowler Hat Guy only wanted to ruin one kid's future, and never wanted to enslave humanity, as Doris ends up doing in the Bad Future.
  • Evil Plan: Bowler Hat Guy wants to ruin Lewis' life because he's really Goob and believes Lewis ruined his life because Lewis' invention made him sleepy during a game which made him bitter and which turned off prospective parents.
  • Expanded States of America (standard): According to the movie, by 2037 Canada will be annexed by the US and renamed North Montana.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The huge Tyrannosaurus Rex is named...Tiny.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: "I know! I'll turn him into a duck! Yes! It's so evil!"
  • Food Fight: Complete with Japanese style, low budget, poorly dubbed lip-syncing.
  • Foreshadowing: We meet Kid!Franny with a bunch of frogs. Then we meet Adult!Franny conducting a bunch of frogs.
    • Or, if you look real hard you can see some of the billboards contain a few. Most specifically, the Doris and her hat invasion.
    • Additionally, Bowler Hat Guy's demotivational speech to Goob, telling him to hold onto his grudges forever until it poisons him is a hint to the fact that Bowler Hat Guy really is Goob.
    • Carl using an upgraded (but still buggy) peanut butter and jelly gun is a hint to the fact that Lewis is Cornelius Robinson.
  • Forgiveness: Another example of the movie's motto of "Keep Moving Forward" and shows the dangers of holding a grudge. Case in point, the Bowler Hat Guy aka Goob.
  • For the Evulz: One of the "to do" items on Bowler Hat Guy's list is "Ruin science fair". That's where he succeeded.
  • Freudian Excuse: Bowler Hat Guy has one. Doris the helper hat is just evil.
  • Freudian Slip: Lewis calls Franny "Mom". Which gets slightly odd when we learn she's his future wife.
  • Future Badass: In the dystopian alternate-future. You know they're Future Badass because the ladies all sport black lipstick. Otherwise, they're just hat-zombies.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: AKA boy genius, child prodigy, whiz kid... Lewis graduates college at fourteen.
    • Especially impressive when you remember that Lewis was adopted when he was twelve. Although it probably helped that his eventual adoptive mother is a scientist...
  • Genki Girl: Dr. Krunklehorn. Yes, really. The fact that she invented a caffeine patch doesn't help matters.
  • Ghibli Hills: Surrounding the Future City, with the Robinson house on top of one of them.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Bowler Hat Guy: *releasing the Dino* "Great, Doris will love this!"
    Cut to Doris, totally furious.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The director's commentary states that jealousy of Cornelius Robinson is Bowler Hat Guy's entire motivation for his villainy.
  • Hard Work Montage: Set to the Crowning Music of Awesome "Another Believer" by Rufus Wainwright.
  • Happily Adopted: Lewis manages to find a family in the end. As the movie shows, he grows to love every weird bit of it.
    • Goob looks well on his way to this after Lewis wakes him up in time to catch the fly ball and win the game for the Dinos.
  • Harmless Villain: Bowler Hat Guy. Until he meets Doris, and even then he is hopelessly incompetent at being evil.
  • Heartwarming Orphan
  • Heel Realization / My God, What Have I Done?: The Bowler Hat Guy, AKA "Goob", upon seeing just what Doris planned to do to the world, with his help.
  • Homemade Inventions: Because you can totally crack the hippocampus with a TV screen, a fan, a vacuum cleaner, a bottle of Mountain Dew and a Discman. Oh, and really comfy headphones.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Dor-15 appears to be this to Bowler Hat Guy for most of the movie. The truth is a lot more sinister: she's actually the one who's manipulating him in her own plan for world domination.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: Doris
  • Is It Always Like This?: Short answer: yes.
    "Yesterday it was meat loaf."
  • It Runs in the Family: What is "it?" Insanity, probably. And it runs in about four different actual families.
  • Ironic Echo: "Take a good look around you; your future is about to change."
  • "I Want" Song: ''Another Believer" in some respects.
  • Jerk Jock: Averted with Goob, whose evolution into a villain is only due to his constant dwelling on a painful event and subsequent refusal to keep doing what he loves, implied to be baseball. Played somewhat straight with the gym teacher, but even he acknowledges Lewis' achievement in the end.
  • Just Between You and Me
  • Kid from the Future: Wilbur Robinson
  • Kids Are Cruel: Played straight when Goob loses the game by missing his catch and his teammates beat him up, calling him names. Later averted by older Goob's schoolmates, who are nice to him and invite him to "hang out". Unfortunately, by that time, he has spent so much time pitying himself that he's become too bitter to notice when people are genuinely nice to him.
  • Lost Aesop: While "Keep Moving Forward" is clearly the moral here, it's not exactly clear if that's always a good idea.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Bowler Hat Guy does this after he offers to take Lewis back to find his mom if he repairs the Memory Scanner. Later, after Lewis repairs the Memory Scanner, Doris ties him up and Lewis says, "We had a deal!" and Bowler Hat Guy reveals his crossed fingers to Lewis, saying, "Crossies! Doesn't count!"
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Bowler Hat Guy's entire motivation for his time-traveling villainy is to ruin Lewis' life and his future as genius inventor Cornelius Robinson.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Or rather, the hat atop the man.
  • Match Cut: At one point, the city skyline of 2037 is match-cut to a 2007 city skyline prior to the Bowler Hat Guy's attempt to present the Memory Scanner at the InventCo offices.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future: Happens twice. At least.
  • Mental Picture Projector: Lewis' Memory Scanner. And it actually comes through.
  • Midair Repair
  • Mind Screw: As mentioned above, the writers' time travel logic makes no sense when you think about it.
    • It'd work out a lot better if the Dinosaur didn't show up again when the family said goodbye to Lewis.
  • Minion with an F in Evil - The Bowler Hat Guy a.k.a "Goob"
  • Missing Mom
  • Multigenerational Household: The Robinsons.
  • Mood Whiplash: Hoo boy. Towards the end of the film, the sunny, idealistic Utopian society transforms suddenly into a bleak, polluted world controlled by evil hats. From optimistic future to zombie apocalypse in five minutes and then back again, and not all at once either -- in a sweeping movement.
  • My Future Self and Me: Lewis meets up with his future self toward the end of the movie.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the book, the protagonist was unnamed.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: We have flying cars and robot buddies and bubblevators, but all the cool kids wear T-shirts, jeans and Converse All-Stars. Huh.
    • Well, a few of the characters do wear Jetsons-like jumpsuits. But T-Shirts and Jeans have lasted out the better part of 50+ years, so there's no reason not to think they can do it for another 20.
    • Aunt Petunia is a fashion designer, which explains her skyscraper hat.
  • Nobody Here But Us Birds
    Lewis: Will you quit that, please? I know you're not a pigeon!
  • Obsessed Are the Listmakers: Bowler Hat Guy loves checklists and is often seen ticking off items in his, such as "Steal time machine", "Ruin science fair", and "Get that [comic book swearing symbols] boy".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Bowler Hat Guy doesn't get a name until about 2/3 of the way through the movie, for spoileriffic reasons.
  • Only Six Faces: A lot of minor characters have similar character models and even a few main character models are reused with Art's appearing in Midtown University and Franny's model also serving as Lewis' mother.
  • Orphanage of Love: Lewis lives at one.
  • Palate Propping: Lewis props the tyrannosaur's jaws open with a shovel.
  • Parental Incest: Averted. It is kinda strange that his future wife almost adopted him.
    • When she realized the truth she became pretty squicked out about it herself too.
  • Pick Your Human Half: I think we all know what side Carl and the super-intelligent DOR-15 are on.
  • Planet of Hats: ...literally.
  • Please Keep Your Hat On: Wilbur literally invokes this with Lewis.
  • Plot Twist: One of the more surprising ones of the last decade — Bowler Hat Guy is really Mike Yagoobian, the somewhat nice, low energy, short, slightly chubby kid Lewis shared a room with at the orphanage.
  • Posters Always Lie: The poster at the top of the page gave the impression that Lizzy was a member of the Robinson family in the future when she's actually just a classmate of Lewis in the present who is only on screen for under a minute in total.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Bowler Hat Guy since he never let one childhood trauma go and thus kept a child-like mentality.
  • Quirky Household
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The first time she controlled a human, Doris' eye went from green to red.
  • Related in the Adaptation: Lewis and the whole Robinson family.
  • Retcon / Ret Gone: Bizarrely, an in-universe example. Near the end, Lewis is about to be attacked by the evil robot hat Doris — who was angry at being locked up as a failed invention after she turned out to be renegade. Suddenly, Lewis glares at Doris and says, "I am never going to invent you." She looks momentarily shocked before vanishing from existence. That's right, weaponized Retcon.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: There are Insta-Buildings in the future, skyscrapers that go from ground level to completion in literally a few seconds.
  • Ridiculously Successful Future Self: Founder of the future, inventor extraordinaire Cornelius Robinson ...also known as Lewis.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory
  • Robot Buddy: Carl.
  • Robot Names: DOR-15, pronounced "Doris."
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Certainly more on the Enlightenment side of the scale.
  • San Dimas Time
  • Science Fair
  • Science Hero: Lewis.
  • Self-Made Man: Wilbur's father Cornelius Robinson is a brilliant inventor and industrialist who practically built the entire Utopian world of the future single-handedly.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong
  • Shout-Out:
    • Todayland in the Future City consists of Space Mountain and the old Astro Jets ride from Disneyland's Tomorrowland. In a deleted scene on the DVD, Carl has Winnie the Pooh stationery.
    • Goob's baseball team is called the Dinos, a Shout-Out to William Joyce's book Dinosaur Bob, which is about a dinosaur who plays baseball.
    • Also, they go to Joyce Williams Elementary School, a Shout-Out to William Joyce.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Firmly idealistic.
  • Stereo Fibbing: When Franny asks Lewis how he and Wilbur met.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: When Bowler Hat Guy uses the time machine to fetch a dinosaur, it's a Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Happens to Bowler Hat Guy. If the CEO of a large company, a talking frog, and a T-Rex all ask you if your plan was well thought out, maybe you need to improve on your villain skills.
  • Straw Loser: Bowler Hat Guy doesn't shower, doesn't even bother to think his evil plans through, and initially couldn't think of any way of revenge more effective than throwing eggs and toilet paper at the Robinson Industries sign.
  • Strong Family Resemblance
  • Symbol Swearing: One of the "to do" items on Bowler Hat Guy's list is literally "Get that [grawlixes] boy".
  • Telescoping Robot: Carl
  • Tempting Fate: When they're running away from Bowler Hat Guy and Dor15.
    Carl: Haha! Look at that, boys! We're almost home fr— (harpoon through the chest)
  • Thirty Minutes or It's Free: Could be Uncle Art's catchphrase.
  • Time and Relative Dimensions in Space
  • Time Machine: There are two fully functional time machines in the whole of the film.
  • Time Police: Specifically, the Time Continuum Task Force. It ain't real.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: It's probably best not to even start on this one, not the least of which is the main character apparently has Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory, and is generally ripple effect proof entirely.
    • Could be justified in that he built it, and could have included fail-safes to ensure that he could restore the natural order if his machines got in the wrong hands.
  • Trunk Shot: Little Doris' last sight before being rubbed out by the frogs. Probably a Shout-Out to gangster movies like GoodFellas and Reservoir Dogs.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Morbidly obese Joe and Billie.
  • Unreliable Voiceover: When Bowler Hat Guy is recounting his backstory.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Bowler Hat Guy to Doris.
  • Villain World: The Bad Future mentioned above.
  • We Will All Fly in the Future: With floating bubbles.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The second time machine seems to have been left in the present day. Nobody brings it up again, even after Cornelius notices that the time machines are missing from the garage.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Carl's death would be cause for an R-rating if he had been a human!
  • While Rome Burns: It's small and easy to miss, but Lizzy can be seen smiling evilly as she watches the chaos that ensues when Lewis' invention malfunctions.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In the alternate future created by Doris, Lewis views a video of how it got to be that way. One of them was of Goob/Bowler Hat Guy protesting to Doris that it (i.e. her taking over the world) wasn't what he wanted, he is then swarmed by a mass of smaller hats who (offscreen) either turn him into a mindless slave or... (more strongly implied) kill him. Luckily Lewis reverses everything, so that never gets a chance to happen.
    • Lampshaded by Lewis, who tells Goob that the minute Doris gets what she wants, she'll "get rid of him".
  • Zeerust - Very fifties. Just look at the poster.

Tropes used in the game include:

Alternative Title(s):

Meet The Robinsons