Since its release a few weeks ago, Tomorrowland has become surprisingly polarizing among film critics who can’t seem to decide if it’s overwhelming sense of optimism is endearing or obnoxious. At the moment, Tomorrowland’s rating on the critic consensus site Rottentomatoes.com sits at a perfectly split 50%, and I’ve seen four or five think pieces just on the polarization itself. As much as I love it when a film can inspire this much discussion, why the hell are critics talking about Tomrrowland’s overwhelming optimism?
Comparatively, it doesn’t matter. Not even a little bit. Because Tomorrowland accidentally features what will probably end up being the creepiest on-screen relationship of 2015. Trust me, this isn’t just me reading too much into an innocent subplot. It may be accidental, but the creepiness is there. Oh my god, it’s super there. More on that in a minute, but first…
Directed by Brad Bird (the filmmaker behind my favorite Pixar movie and my favorite Mission: Impossible movie), this mega-budget film follows the interdimensional misadventures of three heroes: a rebellious and optimistic teenage girl who spends her nights sabotaging the demolition of a former NASA launch pad, a young robot girl with genius intellect and some pretty glorious ass-kicking skills and George Clooney. Their fates are forever intertwined when Casey (the teenage girl, played by Britt Robertson) is collecting her belongings after being bailed out a jail and discovers a “T” encrusted pin that seems to transport her to a futuristic world whenever she touches it.
After Casey’s investigation into the origins of the pin turns deadly, Athena (the young robot girl and intended scene-stealer, played by Raffey Cassidy) rescues her and the pair travel on a brief road trip before Athena unceremoniously abandons Casey at the secluded home of Frank. Frank’s only perceptible characteristics are that he’s grumpy and that he is, in fact, George Clooney. Once the three heroes reunite, they set off on an uneven journey of murky plot developments and mostly sterile action sequences that are just barely fun enough.
Like I said before, much ado has been made about Tomorrowland’s celebration of optimism. Sure, this is a preachy movie and that’s fine. My only gripe with the whole optimism theme is that it sort of misses the point of “doom and gloom” visions of the future. Yet, I don’t really care about that because it’s nothing compared to my gripe about how 54-year-old George Clooney is in love with the little robot girl who’s played by a 12-year-old.
It’s one of those, “murky developments.” Evidently, the murkiest. Although I understood that Frank’s love for Athena was supposed to actually be his lost love for his formerly optimistic view of the future—holy crap—the murky storytelling caused Frank’s affection to play like romantic love. It was certainly accidental but it was weird, it was icky, it was bad and it made me squirm. Why other critics aren’t making a bigger deal out of it, I truly have no clue. It was glaring. The collective reaction from the group I saw Tomorrowland with was, “Eh, it was whatever—but was George Clooney in love with that little girl?!” I imagine that your reaction will be similar.
Grade = D