Sunday, May 20, 2007

Meet the Robinsons

Recently, we saw Meet the Robinsons in 3-D. Although the reviews I'd seen were mixed, and most parents I'd seen mention it online seemed to think it was just okay, I really liked the movie. The 3-D was a cool extra, and I'm sure we will buy the movie on DVD, 3-D or not. However, it's impossible to separate my feelings for it from the fact that I have a science nerd, inventor wanna-be son very much like the movie's main character, Lewis. Lewis's diagrams in the movie, which might look crazy to other viewers, reminded me a lot of my son's own diagrams! Also, even before my son existed, I had met William Joyce, whose book inspired the movie, and I'd been looking out for this movie for years.

About 10 years ago (yikes!), before I had children at all, I attended an SCBWI conference in the Dallas area. One of the speakers was William Joyce, and I bought a signed copy of his book A Day with WIlbur Robinson, and also a copy of George Shrinks. I found his work delightful, and at the time, he told us he was working with Disney to make a movie of the Wilbur Robinson book. A year went by, and I had a son, Ryan. Then I had another son, and somewhere in there William Joyce came out with an animated kids' show, Rolie Polie Olie, which Ryan chose as the theme for his 4th birthday party, even though there was almost nothing available for it. (I made Olie cupcakes for the occasion.) Later, there was a show based on George Shrinks, which also became a favorite of Ryan's. Ryan seemed to come out of the womb with an intuitive sense of math and a strong interest in science, so he's always wanted to be an inventor, and William Joyce's wacky, retro yet futuristic worlds, with quirky characters and lots of cool inventions, have always been right up his alley. But that first movie I'd heard about never showed up until finally, after I had yet a third son, Meet the Robinsons came out this year. I hadn't been thrilled with Robots, which William Joyce also had a hand in (though of course Ryan liked it), so I wasn't all that excited about this movie--the book is a short picture book that wouldn't support a movie as it was, so I felt pretty sure they would have ruined it. And the reviews were fairly lackluster. But when I found out it was showing in 3-D, we took the whole family out to see it, even taking the baby! (It was a weekday afternoon when it had been out a while, so there was only one other family in the theater--and the baby slept through the whole thing.)

I walked away from this movie with such a positive feeling. I know that not everyone would have the same opinion--many reviews mentioned it feeling too fast-paced or frenetic, and I didn't even notice that! But even though I had many reasons to like it, for us the best thing about it was the theme, "Keep moving forward." Both Ryan and his brother Kyle have SUCH a hard time with that. Ryan often panics and gives up very easily at the first difficulty, whereas Kyle stubbornly digs in his heels and refuses to change what he is trying to do even if it is very clear it isn't working and isn't going to work. Neither one moves forward easily. So we have probably repeated, "Keep moving forward!" about 10 times just since we've seen it, when difficulties have arisen, and it has proved very careful to have that catchphrase they can relate to. It helped them both to finally learn to ride their bikes without training wheels last week, learning that they could work through the frustration and failures and eventually succeed. And of course, it's a great lesson for me, too, especially as a writer!

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