by George Wolf
Long before the credits roll, Tomorrowland will have you craving a theme park turkey leg and planning a meet up at Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
To be fair, it’s hardly the first time Disney has gone meta at the multiplex. They’ve had recent success with films based on their rides, and films based on their films. Now they’re moved on to an entire section of the Magic Kingdom, so why does it feel like you never stop standing in line?
Mostly, because there’s so much talk and little action.
George Clooney brings his considerable star power to the role of Frank, a former boy genius who was accepted into the other-worldly community of “Tomorrowland” in 1964. Twenty years later, he was exiled, apparently for inventing something that opened an unwelcome Pandora’s Box.
Now, in present day, Frank is convinced to make a return trip after receiving a surprise visit from Casey (Britt Robertson, mugging frequently), a scientifically-gifted teenager who just might be the key to saving the future.
That’s the short version. There are plenty more convolutions, conversations and explanations involved that only mute the magic the film so desperately seeks.
Director/co-writer Brad Bird made his name in animation (The Iron Giant/The Incredibles), but the considerable visual flair he brought to Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol whet appetites for more live action ventures. Tomorrowland does sport plenty of cool-looking jet packs and rocket ships to-ing and fro-ing, but the film’s pace is slowed to a crawl from the heavy load of exposition. The fun just never has a chance to get airborne.
That’s not the only irony. Tomorrowland‘s message that children are our future is obvious and repetitive, but most likely lost on kids themselves. The little ones won’t keep up and the teens will roll their eyes at the pandering. Everybody else will just fight the boredom.