Lewis (Daniel Hansen and Jordan Fry), is an aspiring young inventor who was left at an orphanage by his mother when he was an infant. He has yet to be adopted and fears that he never will be. Convinced that his birth mother will want him, he attempts to invent a memory-scanning machine in the hopes that he can find her. He spends all of his time on the project, causing his roommate Mike Yagoobian (Goob) to stay awake for days. This makes Goob fall asleep during his important little league game.
At Lewis' school science fair, Lewis is approached by a mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson (Wesley Singerman), who claims to be a "time cop" from the future. Wilbur says that a man wearing a bowler hat has stolen a time machine that Wilbur wishes to recapture. The sinister 'Bowler Hat Guy' (Stephen Anderson), sends Doris (Ethan Sandler), his robotic bowler hat with mechanical arms, to sabotage Lewis' memory-scanner. As Lewis begins demonstrating the use of his machine, it explodes, throwing the science fair into chaos. Lewis runs out, and the Bowler Hat Guy steals his unattended memory scanner. Wilbur tells Lewis to go back to the science fair and fix the machine. To prove suspicious Lewis that he is from the future, Wilbur takes him to a flying time machine to take them to year 2037, thirty years forward.
While giving Lewis a tour of the fantastical world of the future, Lewis realizes he can use the time machine to go back and see his mother. Wilbur insists he go back to fix the memory scanner, and while arguing, they crash the time machine. Wilbur asks Lewis to fix it, and Lewis agrees under the condition that Wilbur take him back to visit his mother afterwards. Wilbur tries to hide Lewis in the garage of his house, but Lewis leaves and meets Wilbur's grandfather, Bud (Steve Anderson). Bud takes Lewis on a tour of the house, during which Lewis meets the rest of the fun-loving and overly-eccentric Robinson family. Wilbur explains that his father, Cornelius, the only member of the Robinson family that Lewis did not meet, invented several of the futuristic inventions earlier seen, including the time machines coining the motto "Keep moving forward". Despite being provided with blueprints, Lewis is unable to repair the time machine.
Meanwhile, Bowler Hat Guy and Doris follow Wilbur and Lewis to the future and attempt to kidnap Lewis so he can show them how his memory scanner works after failing to demonstrate it at InventCo. Meanwhile The Robinsons offer to adopt Lewis but change their mind when they discover that he's from the past. Lewis runs away in misery after finding out Wilbur lied to him about going back to see his mom, and encounters the Bowler Hat Guy, who lures him into his time machine by promising to bring him to his mother.
In a dark room, Lewis shows the Bowler Hat Guy how to operate his memory scanner but the latter goes back on his word and ties him up. Lewis questions what the Bowler Hat Guy has against him. He reveals that Lewis is Cornelius Robinson, making Wilbur his son and the Robinsons his family. As Lewis grapples with the revelation, he repeats his previous question. The Bowler Hat Guy flips on a light, revealing that they're in Lewis' old room at the orphanage, or as he claims, their old room. He reveals himself as an aged and deeply embittered Mike Yagoobian (Goob). He tells Lewis that he is to be blamed for a miserable life of Goob, having kept him sleep-deprived, causing him to lose his little league game. Goob obsessed over this defeat, scaring away his chances at adoption, and stayed at the orphanage after it closed down, eventually coming to blame Lewis for his misery. Goob initially intended to get revenge by vandalizing Robinson Industries, only to meet DOR-15 (Doris), a failed and abandoned invention of Cornelius'. They cooperate to steal the time machine, able to steal it because Wilbur forgot to lock the garage door, and plotted to use it to capture and plagiarize Lewis' first famous invention, to ruin Lewis's career as an inventor. Lewis warns that their actions may drastically alter the future but Goob doesn't care. Lewis tells his old friend that he should just let go of his past and "Keep Moving Forward", incidentally reciting his future motto. However, Goob finds it more convenient to blame Lewis.
Goob and Doris prepare to present the stolen invention to InventCo in the past. Wilbur and his robot Carl (Harland Williams) save Lewis and the memory scanner and escape. As they make their way back to the Robinson house, Lewis punches Wilbur in the shoulder for failing to lock the garage door, revealing that he knows he's his father. Then suddenly, Doris destroys Carl and steals back the memory scanner, returning to Goob as their time machine vanishes. The scenery around Lewis and Wilbur (still in the future) darkens, and Wilbur vanishes into oblivion as history is being rewritten. Lewis enters the derelict house and discovers the memory-scanner in the garage. Viewing its records, he discovers that after mass-producing the memory-scanner, Goob also mass-produces Doris, whereupon the multitude of robotic hats took control of their wearers, something Goob hadn't planned. The Robinsons' utopian future is replaced by a Doris-controlled, smog-darkened industrial empire, with mankind reduced to slaves.
Pursued by an army of DOR-15 hats, Lewis manages to repair the time machine and uses it to go to the precise moment and location where Goob signs the contract at InventCo. Lewis causes Doris to disappear into oblivion by promising that he will never invent her. Lewis then shows Goob the bleak future Doris would have created, which is transformed before their eyes back into the Utopian future. After they land near the Robinson house, Wilbur is brought back into existence. Lewis gets Wilbur to offer for the Robinsons to adopt Goob (after he hit Goob with karate), but Goob, ashamed of what he has done, hides and then walks off uncertain of what to do.
Cornelius (Tom Selleck) appears back from his business trip and panics upon discovering the time machines to be missing before meeting his younger self. Cornelius shows Lewis his lab and points out the memory scanner, the invention he was most proud of. He reminds Lewis that the future is never set in stone and what matters is what he does in the present. Wilbur fulfills his promise to Lewis by visiting the moment at which his mother abandoned him. Lewis nearly interrupts her from leaving the infant "him", but stops, choosing his Robinson future over a childhood with his mother.
Finally, Lewis returns to his own time and prevents Goob from becoming the Bowler Hat Guy by waking him up in time to catch the ball that wins him the game. Lewis then returns to the science fair and demonstrates his memory scanner on the science fair judge, Dr. Krunkelhorn (Laurie Metcalf), revealing that she is Lewis' adopted mother, Lucille. Lewis also meets a young Franny, who desires to make frogs sing. Bud and Lucille adopt Lewis, who nickname him Cornelius and sets to work building Carl in an observatory bought by Bud and Lucile which one day becomes the Robinson house. Just before Lewis/Cornelius drives off with Bud and Lucille, he turns around and waves at Goob, who is also leaving the orphanage with his own new family. Bud and Lucille move into the house Lewis saw further in time where he continues his inventing, fulfilling his future.
The film ends with a quote by Walt Disney: "Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious ... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
- Daniel Hansen/Jordan Fry as Lewis
- Wesley Singerman as Wilbur Robinson
- Aurian Redson, Jamie Cullum (singing voice) as Frankie
- Don Hall as Uncle Gaston and Coach
- Ethan Sandler as DOR-15, Uncle Fritz, Aunt Petunia, Spike, Dimitri, Cousin Laszlo
- Harland Williams as Carl
- Jessie Flower as Young Franny
- Joe Mateo as Tiny
- Kelly Hoover as Aunt Billie
- Adam West as Uncle Art
- Laurie Metcalf as Lucille Krunklehorn
- Matthew Joston as Michael "Goob" Yagoobian
- Nicole Sullivan as Franny Robinson
- Steve Anderson as Bowler Hat Guy, Grandpa Bud, Cousin Tallulah
- Tom Kenny as Mr. Willerstein
- Angela Bassett as Mildred
- Tom Selleck as Cornelius Robinson
- "Another Believer" - Rufus Wainwright
- "Little Wonders" - Rob Thomas
- "The Future Has Arrived" - The All-American Rejects
- "Where Is Your Heart At?" - Jamie Cullum (written by Wainwright)
- "The Motion Waltz" (Emotional Commotion)" - Rufus Wainwright
- "Give Me the Simple Life" - Jamie Cullum
- "The Prologue" (Score)
- "To the Future!" (Score)
- "Meeting the Robinsons" (Score)
- "The Science Fair" (Score)
- "Goob's Story" (Score)
- "A Family United" (Score)
- "Pop Quiz and the Time Machine Montage" (Score)
- "The Evil Plan" (Score)
- "Doris Has Her Day" (Score)
- "Setting Things Right" (Score)
- "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" - They Might Be Giants
- "Kids of the Future" - Jonas Brothers
As the fusion between Disney and Pixar occurred during the production of the film, John Lasseter became the chief creative officer for the Walt Disney Company. When he saw an early screening for the movie, he told the director Stephen Anderson that he didn't find the villain scary or threatening enough, and suggested that he make some changes. Ten months later, almost 60% of the movie had been scrapped and redone. The villain had improved and was given a new sidekick, a dinosaur chase had been added, and the ending was changed.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Over its theatrical run, it grossed $97,822,171 in the United States and Canada and $71,510,863 in other territories, totaling $169,333,034 worldwide.
- Meet the Robinsons was initially scheduled to be released on December 15, 2006, but was pushed back to March 30, 2007.
- This is the first film to show the new Walt Disney Animation Studios animated logo. Beforehand, just "Walt Disney Pictures" appears.
- Many adaptations from the Tomorrowland and Discoveryland section of the Disney Parks are shown in this movie:
- A ground sign said TODAYLAND. This is a reference because, as the movie was placed in the future, this represents Tomorrowland.
- Many of the inventions of the future look like Tomorrowland attractions.
- In Lewis' lab in the final scene, some of the inventions scrapped from earlier scenes are apparent. One of them are anti-gravity boots from a scrapped scene in which Wilbur uses them to battle Dolores. It is seen next to the unfinished Carl the Robot.
- When Wilbur tells Lewis who Cornellius looks like, he says Tom Selleck, who coincidentally voices him.
- The fate of the second time machine is never revealed, since Lewis brought Goob back to the future in the first one, which means that the second machine is still in the present.
- There is a goof in this movie. Lewis took off the wheel in the time machine, making it crash-land, but a little while later, it is back on the time machine.
- The "Keep Moving Forward" motto becomes a reference after the death of RWBY animator Monty Oum on February 1, 2015.
- "I invented it! Me! Me!" - Goob
- "Pop quiz. Who have you met and what have you learned?" "Okay. Bud, Fritz and Joe are brothers. Fritz is married to Petunia, and is she...?" "Cranky? Yes." "Tallulah and Laszlo are their children, Joe is married to Billie, Lefty is the butler, Spike and Dmitri are twins, and I don't know who they're related to." "Neither do we. Go on." "Lucille is married to Bud and your dad Cornelius is their son. What does Cornelius look like?" "Tom Selleck." "Okay. Cornelius is married to Franny, and her brothers are Gaston and Art." "You're forgetting something..." "Forgetting... oh, right. Wilbur is the son of Franny and Cornelius." "And nobody realized that you were from the past?" "Nope." "Phew." "Thank you, thank you, hold your applause, thank you very much." -Wilbur and Lewis after Lewis meets Wilbur's family
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Characters: Lewis | Wilbur Robinson | Bowler Hat Guy | DOR-15 | Mini-Doris | Carl | Bud Robinson | Lucille Krunklehorn | Billie Robinson | Joe Robinson | Fritz Robinson | Petunia Robinson | Laszlo Robinson | Franny Robinson | Art Framagucci | Gaston Framagucci | Spike and Dimitri | Mildred | Mr. Willerstein | Lizzy | Stanley | Coach | Mr. Harrington | Mrs. Harrington | Lewis' mother