I knew nothing about the plot of the movie going in, but I knew from a podcast that was largely making fun of it that there was going to be a lot of earnestness and “Dreaming can solve everything!” So mostly I was waiting for it to be too sappy, or put too much faith in, well, faith and hope. But it wasn’t!
I mean, that’s not to say that it’s not still very PG, in a way that probably all PG movies feel like and I’m just not used to it because I don’t see very many of them. The premise of the movie is kind of “We can save the world by having good ideas and being really inventive!” Which, I suppose, is true, but it’s a very varnished kind of representation of that. But I’d still rather have Disney showing people of legitimately varied backgrounds–men, women, all colors, and all ages–contributing meaningfully to The Future than, well, not that.
Also! This movie passes the Bechdel test! (Well, okay, there might be a technicality, but I’m ready to argue right back against that if someone wants to be That Guy). How delightful to have a big-budget Disney movie that has women in two of the three leads (and honestly, Georgy Clooney is just there to be a curmudgeon, which he is just fine as. I approve of the use of George Clooney as a curmudgeon).
So in Tomorrowland, there is an alternate kind of universe (dimension? something?) that exists in the same physical footprint as our current world, but simultaneously. So going between them, you might be in a field in this magical world, but accidentally walk into a lake here (because, for reasons I might have just missed, the border between the two worlds is not always as firm as it might be). We have created this place, which is super cool and futuristic and has jetpacks and all sorts of stuff, presumably to house our very best and brightest dreamers, so they can come up with new and cool stuff.
As I’m thinking about it, it’s unclear how much the cool inventions in the movie’s Tomorrowland get to trickle back down to the real world, which they should, given that it is real-world people who are brought there to work on whatever. Although, if people are brought there, kids must also be born there, you’d think. Huh. I wonder what stops them from growing apart as separate societies? There would be an inherent vein of “Why should we share all our cool stuff with them?” on the part of the people who didn’t come from this world and aren’t motivating by the same intrinsic desire for good.
Well anyway, that has nothing to do with the actual movie. The actual movie has Casey (Britt Robertson), who is a plucky young teen (she’s 25 IRL, and looks it. She looks great, but just not 16. I guess you have to say the words and pretend she’s younger since it’s a younger audience?). She is super smart and refuses to take no for an answer, including to things like “No, we’re shutting down this NASA facility and your dad’s going to have to get a new job.” It’s that kind of determined optimism that gets her noticed by Athena (Raffey Cassidy), a young girl with a whole set of mysterious circumstances. They get pursued by human-lookin’ robots with very coiffed hair and alarming smiles and seek out Frank Walker (George Clooney, also Thomas Robinson in some extensive flashbacks that weren’t as annoying as I was worried they’d be). Also that part about Tomorrowland, and turns out it’s crumbling, and Hugh Laurie is an evil villain, because obviously.
It’s nothing particularly remarkable, but it’s nice, and nice, PG movies where the message is actually hope and Anything is Possible have a place at the multiplex too.