Tomorrowland should be a slam dunk. It’s Disney. It’s George Clooney. It’s Brad Bird (director). It’s nostalgia. It’s the future. But, like an errant jet pack, it goes off course.
Not to say that Tomorrowland isn’t entertaining. It is. But it could’ve been great. And, sadly, it’s just okay.
The concept has merit, but there’s just too much “business” going on and not quite enough real meat on the bones of this message movie. And, in case you don’t get the message, it is pounded into you: Yes, we have big problems in our world. But rather than complain about them, you should get busy solving those problems.
Frank Walker (George Clooney, with stubble) opens the film by talking about the future and how attitudes toward the future have changed since he was a kid.
A young Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) is shown attending the 1964 New York World’s Fair and showing off the jet pack he’s invented. Nix (Hugh Laurie) nixes the device but young Athena (Raffey Cassidy) helps deliver him (and the jetpack) into Oz, um, I mean, Tomorrowland.
Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) is busted while trying to sneak onto the grounds at Cape Canaveral. She finds a cool pin among her personal effects when her rocket scientist dad (Tim McGraw) bails her out. The pin takes her to Tomorrowland.
Upon her return, she visits a collectables store and asks the clerks (Keegan-Michael Key and Katherine Hahn) about the pin, thereby setting in motion a sequence that echoes Men In Black.
With guidance from Athena, Casey meets up with Frank Walker and they begin their mission to get back to where they once belonged.
Tomorrowland bogs down on more than one occasion in preachy dialogue. And for a PG-rated movie, there are a couple of things that might freak out a small fry—such as when a little girl is hit by a speeding truck. Oh, she bounces right up, but the shock resonates.
For those of us who’ve made a few journeys around the sun, Tomorrowland comes off as idealistic pap. We’ve rolled our eyes at futuristic visions for decades.
For the younger, bright-eyed optimists of the world, this great big beautiful Tomorrowland is manna from Disney heaven. If your cynicism level is zero, you’ll eat Tomorrowland up like warm gooey butter cake.