(2007) dir. Stephen J. Anderson
viewed: 04/01/07 at AMC Loews Metreon 16 with IMAX
Another digitally animated Disney movie, another Saturday with the kids at the Metreon.
I wasn’t even really sure what the plot was supposed to be on this from the trailers, which is not such a bad thing. Of course, with Disney features, it hardly matters because the plots are so straightforward and cliche that it doesn’t take a lot to figure it out. That said, for a G-Rated film, the plot was confusing for my kids, I am pretty sure.
All this abandoned orphan looking to find his mother by going back in time, but ending up going forward in time and meeting all his future family. Of course, it takes him most of the film to figure that out. It’s definitely over my 3-year old’s head, but I have to think my 5 year old son had a hard time with it too. Time travel, generational gaps, eh.
Well, the whole thing was not bad, really. The tone was more serious and adventurous, meant to play off the sentiment and emotion of the storyline, reinforcing family values and so forth. It lacked any great laughs, which I think my son prefers greatly to narrative. They got more out of the Mickey Mouse cartoon, Boat Builders (1938), that played as a pre-featurette, which was quite pleasant really, though not top notch.
One thing that I thought was weird was how the future family that Lewis, the protagonist, finds that accepts him are all basically insane and though meant to be charming are actually bizarre without necessary pleasantness or charm. Maybe its all intended that the audience reads that the outcasts find beauty in wacky goofballs. This whole part of it didn’t work very well either. I think the film lacked quality character development and that really hurt it more than anything.
Polished animation needs more than a straightforward narrative structure and fairly straightforward characterization. For me, at least. Probably so for my kids as well.