To you cynics, I say, lighten up. Also “Pirates of the Caribbean” was a great movie (we’ll just pretend the other ones didn’t happen).
“Tomorrowland” is very self-aware of its harsh contrast to the typical summer blockbuster. Where many others paint a bleak picture of Earth’s future, generally with some combination of warfare, natural disaster, and/or genocide, “Tomorrowland,” asks, “Why,” or as our heroine Casey (Britt Robertson) puts it, “How can we fix it.”
Surrounded by a planet full of people who seem to have accepted and embraced the fact that our planet is doomed (a morbid fact that’s comically portrayed through a montage of high school lectures), Casey is a dreamer, and optimist, and a vandal who’s just been arrested for trespassing and tampering with government property in an effort to halt the dismantling of a NASA launchpad. Her motivations are two-fold:
- One, the completion of the project will mean her father (Tim McGraw), a NASA engineer, will be out of work.
- Two, the decline of the space program is a step backwards for creative thinking that Casey’s curious mind just can’t accept.
Are you feeling inspired yet?
The appearance of a pin that apparently transports her to a futuristic society leads her to (with a few twists and tuns in the interim) Frank Walker (George Clooney), who encountered a pin of his own at the 1964 Worlds Fair (fun fact: “It’s a Small World” made its debut here). He’s another dreamer who’s encountered a few roadblocks. With some help from another character who I’ll let you discover on your own, because she’s fantastic, as is the 12-year-old actress Raffey Cassidy who portrays her. She was a delightful surprise.
Speaking of she’s. I have to give Disney props for another great female lead. Britt Robertson is great in this role and the quick back and forth dialogue between her and George Clooney make this movie and enjoyable, witty ride.
The history and science that went into this story is stellar in and of itself. Yes, some of it’s a little self-congratulatory of Disney, but it’s still fascinating, and if Disney isn’t working on converting the “It’s a Small World” ride right now, I will be thoroughly disappointed.
The message of this movie is clear: We have to start dreaming again, and caring about what happens to this planet. That kind of mantra could have easily become overbearing, yet, it’s never preachy, aside from a glorious speech given by Hugh Laurie as Tomorrowlandian Nix, that I presume will be played in high school science classes for many years to come. While I’m on the subject of Nix…
[Spoiler Alert] Just skip on past Ms. Poehler if you don’t want to see it. [Spoiler Alert]
I have one thing to say about the cartoon villain final moment of Nix (Hugh Laurie)—What in the world was that? It doesn’t match the rest of the movie, let alone the character. Okay, so maybe I had more than one thing to say…I’ll let Ms. Poehler close out this spoiler section with one last comment…
…welcome back spoiler free readers. To conclude, “Tomorrowland” is a refreshingly optimistic addition to the Summer of Blockbusters, and it knows it, and that’s half the fun.