Danny Elfman talks Meet the Robinsons (2007)
There are (unfortunately) a lot of films in the Walt Disney canon that are extremely underrated, and Meet the Robinsons is one of them. I admit, when I saw the previews for this film, I didn’t think it was something I would like. How I ended up watching this film, I really don’t remember, but I do know that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
The film follows Lewis (Jordan Fry), a 12-year old orphan who is an aspiring inventor. He’s obsessed with locating his mother, who abandoned him at an orphanage as an infant. Lewis builds a memory scanner that he hopes will show him who his mother is, but in the midst of the science fair, a strange kid named Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman) shows up (claiming to be a ‘time cop’) and before he knows it, Lewis is whisked off to a strange (and pretty wonderful) future.
In this future, there are flying cars, singing frogs and wonderful inventions for every aspect of life. It’s hundreds of times better than anything Lewis has experienced and he very much wants to stay. But first, Wilbur (who actually isn’t a time cop of any kind) needs Lewis’ help to fix one of his dad’s time machines (which crashed when the two boys got into an argument). Lewis agrees, on the condition that Wilbur take him to see his mother afterward. Lewis ends up meeting the rest of the Robinson family, all except Cornelius, the head of the family, who’s away on a business trip. Lewis really wants to be adopted by the Robinsons, but when they learn he’s from the past (and especially when they see his distinctive hair, they suddenly change their minds), upsetting Lewis, who now thinks they don’t really care about him. The truth is…kind of complicated. It turns out that Cornelius IS Lewis and Wilbur is his future son (apparently there’s no lasting harm to the space-time continuum if you meet your future family).
At the same time all of this is going on, a strange “Bowler Hat Man” has been seen sneaking around and stealing various items. It turns out that this is Lewis’ former best friend Goob, now grown up. Goob hates Lewis/Cornelius because his projects made him so tired he didn’t make an important catch at a baseball game and he became so bitter over it that he never got adopted. As a result, he ends up working with another abandoned invention of Cornelius’ named DOR-15 (“Doris”) with the aim of stealing Lewis’ very first invention and ruining HIS future. There’s a brief glimpse of a horrifying future where the entire human population is mind-controlled by clones of Doris (Doris appears as a bowler hat but it can clamp down and obscure the eyes when it’s controlling it’s victim). Lewis is able to end this future by promising to never invent Doris in the first place, and after briefly meeting his future self (how does this not disrupt the space-time continuum??), he is returned to his own time, now knowing that the future is going to be beautiful indeed.
Danny Elfman composed the music for this film and I think he did a brilliant job. The “Making of” video located above looks into how Elfman crafted the score and took inspiration from other cartoon composers like Carl Stalling (who was responsible for most of the music for the original Looney Tunes cartoons). There are some great shots of Elfman in the recording studio (with the work-in-progress film playing on a big screen).
Meet the Robinsons may be nearly 10 years old, but it’s still a fun film that you should definitely try (and the score is great to listen to as well). I hope you enjoy this look into the making of the music for Meet the Robinsons!
If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Danny Elfman, see here
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