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Running Time:
1 hour 47 minutes

Rating: PG Parental Guidance Suggested.

Rating Explanation:
or sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
An ambitious and visually stunning film, unfortunately weighted down by uneven storytelling.

Additional Info:
George Clooney ... Frank Walker
Hugh Laurie ... Nix
Britt Robertson ... Casey Newton
Raffey Cassidy ... Athena
Tim McGraw ... Eddie Newton
Kathryn Hahn ... Ursula K
Keegan-Michael Key ... Hugo
Chris Bauer ... Frank's Dad
Pierce Gagnon ... Nate Newton
Matthew MacCaull ... Dave Clark
Judy Greer ... Mom
Thomas Robinson ... Young Frank Walker


The picture begins with Frank Walker (George Clooney) arguing with young Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) in an on-camera interview about how best to tell their story. The dispute leads to a prolonged flashback in which we see him as an imaginative boy (Thomas Robinson) going to the Epcot Center at the 1964 New York World’s Fair to enter his invention—a jet pack that doesn’t quite fly—in a contest. He’s dismissed by David Nix (Hugh Laurie), a supercilious judge, but a peculiar young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) gives him a small pin that eventually lands him in Tomorrowland, a futuristic city that somewhat resembles a gleaming white version of the Wizard of Oz one.

Suddenly we’re whisked to the present, where Casey takes over. She’s an equally imaginative—and spunky—high school girl who’s constantly bombarded by messages that the earth is in bad shape but never told how to help deal with the global problems. She’s the daughter of a worker at Florida’s Cape Canaveral, and tries to prevent the rocket-launching platform there from being torn down. She’s caught, however, and on being released from jail finds one of those pins inserted among her belongings. It carries her off to the outskirts of Tomorrowland too—now apparently some sort of alternate reality that coexists with our own—and after several failed attempts makes her way into the place for a fascinating but short visit.

Tossed back into her humdrum life, Casey determines to get back to that futuristic paradise, making her way to a Houston shop specializing in comic and movie collectibles. There she’s accosted by its strange proprietors (Keegan-Michael Key and Kathryn Hahn) before being rescued by Athena, looking unchanged after all those years, who instructs her to seek out the reclusive Frank. She finds him, but after a big confrontation at his isolated farm involving some murderous robots, they’re off—again with Athena’s help—to Paris, where they embark on a spaceship hidden inside the Eiffel Tower that will speed them to Tomorrowland. But it turns out to be a very different place from the one Frank remembers or Casey just experienced.

All this is a lead-up to a heavy-handed message about working to save the planet rather than simply talking about the dangers facing the environment. The action scenes can’t escape the feel of real violence that live-action inevitably brings, but which, of course, in an animated film would seem greatly diluted. Director Brad Bird tries to minimize the unpleasantness as best he can (and, of course, it’s usually a robot that gets mashed or dismembered), but frankly the slam-bang nature of the physical confrontations is still pretty strong. 

Tomorrowland is an opulent production, and the sets and locations (including the Calatrava-designed City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, which partially stand in for the Tomorrowland world) look fine, so fine, in fact  that they emphasize the insipidity of most of the dialogue and action. 

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