Ink & Pixel: Meet The Robinsons

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Ink & Pixel is a source of pride and joy for me as a writer and as such, I’m always striving to take this column further for those who read and enjoy it. In an effort to widen the reach of our continuously growing fanbase, Ink & Pixel has been granted permission to broaden its horizons with the inclusion of films from the Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy genres. I hope that you enjoy this bold new direction for the column. Additionally, if you yourself, or anyone you know, helped to make any of the amazing feature films found within this column, I would love to talk to you to further my knowledge. Please contact me at [email protected] so we can discuss it further.

This has been an interesting year for animation in the film industry. THE LEGO MOVIE proved that imagination and ingenuity can generate lots of laughs on the big screen, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 soared through the hearts of moviegoers – making it the highest grossing animated film of the year so far – and Laika’s THE BOXTROLLS dazzled audiences with its painstaking artistry and emphasis on individualism! Honestly, during a year where there are no Pixar films to speak of, it’s nice to see that other studios have stepped up to the plate and made good use of their time in the spotlight.

Additionally, we still have films like Marvel’s BIG HERO 6, 20th Century Fox Animation’s THE BOOK OF LIFE, and Studio Ghibli’s WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE to look forward to! If you ask me, 2014 is shaping up rather well, and stands to be remembered as one of the medium’s better years in recent times.

Now that we’ve hyped ourselves up with talk about many of the great films featured in this current year, let’s take a trip back to 2007, when Walt Disney Animation Studios released their computer-animated comedy film MEET THE ROBINSONS. Directed by Stephen J. Anderson, the 47th animated feature in Walt Disney Classics library is rarely spoken of, and I feel it is my job to see that this film gets the recognition it so rightly deserves. In my estimation, MEET THE ROBINSONS came along at a rather awkward time in Disney’s computer-animated career. Why is that? Well, as you may recall, Disney was once partners with Pixar Studios – an animation powerhouse known for creating such industry-changing films such as TOY STORY, A BUG’S LIFE, and MONSTERS INC., among many others. In 2006, the two studios parted ways, leaving Disney to prove its worth working solo in a time when CGI was quickly becoming the standard way of presenting an animated feature.

Disney swung for the fences with their release of CHICKEN LITTLE in the year 2005. The film enjoyed a successful run at the box office; holding onto the #1 spot for two weeks in a row before steadily making its way down the charts as time went on. Despite being a financial success during its theatrical run, the folktale-inspired alien invasion adventure met with mixed reactions from theatergoers. Sadly, CHICKEN LITTLE did very little to instill confidence in long-term Disney fans about the studio’s ability to create new and wonderful properties without the aid of their much-beloved CGI-based partners, Pixar. Disney’s next effort, MEET THE ROBINSONS, pulled Disney from what looked like the beginning sparks of a most terrible fire.

Hey kids! Do you know what time it is? That’s right! It’s origin story time! Okay, so MEET THE ROBINSONS was created as a very loose adaptation of the book A Day with Wilbur Robinson by the American writer, filmmaker, and illustrator, William Edward Joyce. When asked about his inspiration for the novel – during an interview featured as part of the behind-the-scenes content of the film’s DVD and Blu-Ray release – Joyce had this to say about the story’s creation, “I wanted to do a sort of fictionalized biography of what my childhood had been like, or at least the way that I had wished my childhood would have been. So I populated it [the book] with all these characters that I knew, people from my family, but I kind of ratcheted it up three degrees and mixed it up with all the movies I loved as a kid.

Joyce continued on saying that he looked to the unique quirks of several of his real-life relatives when creating many of the characters. For example, he had a grandfather that had been fitted with a glass eye and a false set of teeth. Joyce claimed that while growing up, he saw this relative as a sort of mechanical man, pieced together by the wonders of technology. In addition to his patchwork grandfather, Joyce also spoke of his uncle – who stood at a staggering 7-feet-tall – and insisted that he was a visitor from outer space. With memorable individuals such as this playing an integral role in his adolescence, it’s no wonder Joyce was able to craft such unique characters based on their example.

Early on in its production, MEET THE ROBINSONS underwent a rather unprecedented process of selling itself to Disney Animation Studios. Before the film was green lit 100% and moved into full-on production, the makers of the film were asked to present a complete storyboarded version of the film to investors before any further movement on the picture could be approved. Because of this unique condition passed down by the higher ups, a hand-drawn, colored, and significantly detailed version of the film was made entirely in the story board format. The deal was that if it didn’t work in this “rough draft” version of the film, well, then it might not work at all.

Obviously, the artists and writers were up to the task, but man, talk about placing your team at a disadvantage. Imagine for a moment that you have to propose your entire animated film (in a non-animated format) to a room full of higher ups, each of them capable of pulling the plug on your project. What if a visual gag doesn’t have the same effect while being presented in a stilled frame? What if the sincerity of a tender moment is lost without those animated gestures to give it oomph? Yikes! Furthermore, and according to Box Office, the film grossed a worldwide total of $169,333,034 during it’s 23 weeks of release – during which it appeared across 3,435 individual screens.

It’s been a few years since my last watch of MEET THE ROBINSONS, but I recall the film as being one of quality and I’d be happy to recommend it to anyone who enjoys films that stress the importance of imagination and perseverance. People who grow up to be known as individuals who have always thought outside of the box, don’t always have an easy go of it. Often times, these forward-thinkers are the victims of much ridicule for being “different”. However, the story and characters of this film – though fictitious – stress the importance of not only believing in the impossible, but encouraging those who are able to embrace the unknown and work within it to create a better tomorrow. In my mind that’s a film worth seeing.

Source:, Box Office Mojo

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.