As I look at my list of favorites over the 2000s, I find it filled with movies that were warm and celebrated unexpected goodness, good deeds in a weary world — to quote a famous chocolate maker. There was certainly a place for masterpieces of cynicism and despair (“Frailty,” “The Prestige,” “The Pledge”), but I found myself more impressed by those films that could wring emotion out of light rather than darkness. Be it the unwavering friendship of Sam as his friend Frodo descends into madness on their quest to dispose of a cursed ring, young Akeelah remembering all of the people in her life who helped her train for the spelling bee, or Penny Lane tricking Russell Hammond into visiting the home of the young journalist he betrayed so that he might make amends, the moments that stood out were the ones that celebrated surprising decency.
My choice for favorite film of the decade may not be the best film of the 2000s. Heck, it’s probably not the best animated film of the past 10 years. But it’s one of those movies that I probably love more than anyone else on the planet, which perhaps only makes me love it more. I have never been so surprised by, and overjoyed with, a film as I was following my first viewing of “Meet the Robinsons.” This under-the-radar Disney film, about an orphaned young scientist who travels into the future and meets the surrogate family he could only dream of, is constantly clever, often hilarious and unabashedly emotional. I walked out of the press screening, my eyes more than a little watery, and immediately called my wife to inform her that I had wasted a Wednesday afternoon. I had just seen something truly special and she was going to have to accompany me for a repeat viewing as soon as possible. The heartbreaking initial act, the goofy but human futuristic family, the mobster-frogs, the way that the deliciously villainous Bowler Hat Guy becomes the most sympathetic figure in the film, the stunningly powerful and completely earned happy ending — everything about this unassuming picture is just magical. To paraphrase another classic of this decade, “Meet the Robinsons” is a movie I love so much that it hurts.
Film Salon has invited a group of special guests to write about their favorite film(s) of the 2000s. To read the entire series, go here.