Previously, I shared my thoughts on the who the worst father in Disney movies was, and I was asked who I thought the best Disney dad was. Like many of my generation, the first one that came to mind was Mufasa. The voice, the death, a very iconic character to be sure. However, the more I thought about it I realized that however iconic he may be, the best dad to come from a Disney movie was not Mufasa, but Cornelius Robinson.
You probably just said, “who?”
If you’ve unfamiliar, Cornelius Robinson is the patriarch in Meet the Robinsons. While it certainly wasn’t the most popular movie, (released in 2007 it was the 29th highest grossing movie of the year. If you’re curious 28th was Evan Almighty) that doesn’t take away from Cornelius’s status a great movie dad. I’m also saying Mufasa was a bad dad. I mean, I feel like telling his only son to stay away from his creepy uncle would have been a good nugget of wisdom for him to pass along. But circle of life, that’s cool.
So what makes Cornelius the best? Well let’s start with the obvious – his name is Cornelius. That is a great dad name. What makes it even better, is that isn’t even his real name. Dude chooses to go by Cornelius. His real name is Lewis. Major upgrade and a tally to put in the best dad column.
Another point in his favor is also pretty simple – he’s alive. I know parents in kids movies are easy targets to kill off early, so there is something to be said for a guy who is still standing when the credits roll. It has been said that 90% of being a dad is just showing up. I think there is some truth to that. I also think that tries to cram way to much other stuff into the remaining 10%. Carring crap to and from the car is at least 8% alone. The simple act of being there goes a long way, so the fact that Cornelius is simply there works in his favor.
Also, Cornelius is not a king. He wasn’t born into royalty. He’s just a dude. He was actually an orphan. He came up through his own ingenuity and hard work, which automatically bumps him up above any of the king dads, even feline ones.
One thing that Cornelius and Mufasa actually have in common is their relatively low amount of screen time. I know that technically Cornelius is in almost every scene in the movie as the younger Lewis, but Cornelius as the dad is only there for a few minutes. If you haven’t seen the movie that may seem confusing, but – spoilers – Lewis travels to the future and finds out that he grows up to be Cornelius. However, Mufasa and Cornelius differ in how their limited screen time is used. Mufasa’s time early in the movie sets him up as a larger than life figure in the eyes of his son, who is then tormeted by the fact that he feels he’ll never live up to what his father may have wanted for him. Cornelius on the other hand is not seen until the movie is almost over, but his impression is felt throughout and serves as an inspiration for people to embrace who they are live up to who they believe they can be. What could be a better lesson for dad to pass along, even in absence?
Which leads me to the biggest factor for his greatness – he literally changed the world. Unlike that useless dope Maurice, Cornelius Robinson is an inventor who makes great things. He revolutionizes everything from construction, transportation, robotics, sandwich making, and the inventor’s holy grail – time travel. Cornelius sets out to make his mark on the world by making it a better place to live, and he succeeds. Isn’t that something all dads, nay, all people aspire to do? And its not like he is some work-obsessed guy who neglects his family. By all accounts his son is smart, adventerous, and thinks the world of his dad. Cornelius has also taken in his parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, so I think he definitly qualifies as a family man. Mufasa couldn’t even keep tabs on one brother. Just saying. Cornelius seems to have mastered work-life balance.
While it certainly isn’t the most popular movie, Meet the Robinsons is definitly worth a watch. It’s got some funny parts, it’s got some heart, and oh yeah, it’s got Tom Selleck. That’s right, Cornelius is voiced by Tom Selleck. Admittedly, his voice is not exactly James Earl Jones, but it is also hard to out-dad Magnum freaking P.I.