Wednesday, August 22, 2012
#47: Failing Family
watched August 12, 2012
While the futuristic Jetsons-esque setting of this film may be unique in the Disney animated canon, the story still centers on a winsome orphan who longs to find where he belongs. Blah blah blah.
Sorry. It's been 47 weeks; you can't blame me for being a little weary of the repetition.
But okay. While the film's humor is a bit more Emperor's New Groove and less Timon and Pumbaa, it's still one of the better 'modern' Disney films. (I suppose anything is a step up after Home on the Range, though. I'm still having nightmares about hypnotized cows.)
Lewis is a clever orphan whose wacky inventions often interfere with his desire to become adopted. Again, we see optimism outweighing difficulties, as he makes it his goal to invent a machine that will help him remember his birth mother, believing she is the only parent who will ever love him.
But in a surprising (or maybe just amusing, let's be honest here) turn of events, Lewis finds himself blasted into the future, where he meets Wilbur Robinson, a spunky teenager, and his large family of crazy characters. Unless Lewis can fix the time machine that brought him there, he may have to stay in the future forever. Gradually, however, Lewis starts to think staying may not be such a bad thing, as he spends time with this unconventional family that not only welcomes him with open arms, but also holds startlingly different values.
The Robinsons love failure. In fact, they erupt with joy and excitement when Lewis tries to fix the peanut butter and jelly dispenser and doesn't succeed. Though Lewis has never had a family, he knows that this is not normal. When our own culture is so unabashedly performance-based, the audience, too, finds the family's extreme positivity towards failure quite alarming.
Lewis realizes that the Robinson home is not only really weird and fun, but it's also a place where love is unconditional. Mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn and grow, to "keep moving forward." He can't help but long to become a part of this family; in fact it seems he's always belonged there.
Like Lewis, we seek love and acceptance in many places. A lot of times we try to prove we're worthy through moral behavior, financial success, or the ability to "fit in." We work tirelessly in effort to show that we deserve to be included, invited, loved. But we will never achieve perfection this way, and thus we will always feel the sting of rejection.
There is one family, however, where success means nothing. And that's because it's the family where success is achieved through one family member. Through the Son all of our failures and faults become opportunities to receive grace, to learn and grow. In this family we can be just who we are, whether we wear our pants backwards, teach frogs to sing jazz, or shoot meatballs out of canons. We can create, invent, work hard. And fail.
When we're adopted into this family, we quickly realize that we will always belong, now and moving forward.