June 17, 2015
Family Film Blogging: Tomorrowland
Posted by Christine Hurt

We are on the road this June, but the littlest one and I have gotten to the movies (finally).  We recently caught up with Tomorrowland, a movie that caught our eye(s) in the previews.

So, you may or may not like Tomorrowland depending on whether you take your cynical hat off before you enter.  If you are a cynic and hate George Clooney because you think he is a Hollywood ignoramous trying to shove his liberal agenda down consumers' throats, then don't go.  If you are a cynic and hate Walt Disney because you think everything is a marketing ploy and a plot to shove licensed consumer goods down consumers' throats, then don't go.  However, if you accept that grown-ups, politicians and corporations choose short-termism over the long view every time and that sometimes we need to listen to children and geniuses (and child geniuses), then go to the movies!

The framework of the movie is not completely clear until the end (and then not completely), but the basic plot is thus:  At some point, geniuses like Verne, Edison, Tesla and Eiffel created a city in a different dimension.  Brilliant folks would be recruited to this dimension to invent, problem-solve, create, etc. without intervention from pessimists and bureaucrats.  There are some clues that this secret city-lab was to be revealed to the public during the 1964 World's Fair, but that plot strand is sort of left hanging somewhere.  Anyway, one child genius is recruited in 1964:  Frank (Clooney).  Though I'm still fuzzy on this point, he seems to be exiled in the 1980s for creating an algorithm that calculates the end of Earth.  This "bad" machine seems to destroy Tomorrowland in some way, and recruiting stops.  However, one recruiter, Athena, continues to look for brilliant geniuses on Earth who may still be optimistic about the fate of our planet in a world turned ultra-Malthusian.  (The end of the NASA space program is used here as a symbol of at least the United States giving up on new frontiers and new solutions.)

Athena's last hope is the daughter of a NASA engineer, Casey.  She is the 2015 version of Frank, and Athena believes that her optimism can change the course of destiny, which the bad machine has calculated as 100% probable that the world will end in 58 days.  Much is made of the concept that accepting that destiny makes it happen, but one does not have to merely accept it.  The future can be changed by believing in a different outcome.  Casey is the kind of person who does not accept the current course of future events.  Of course, for Athena and Casey to get back to Tomorrowland, they need Frank's help, but Frank has become a Lorax-style hermit.  The other twist is that Athena broke Frank's heart years ago.  The scenes between the still-hurting Frank and Athena work remarkably well, given that Frank is a 62 year-old man and Athena is a 12 year-old android.  (How's that -- a Hollywood movie that has a leading man playing someone a little older than himself!)

My seven year-old and I enjoyed the movie, though it probably won't go into the Disney Hall of Fame.  The movie is a little wacky like older Disney films Bedknobs and Broomsticks with a little Meet the Robinsons thrown in for good measure.  Enjoy!

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