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Running Time:
1 hour 47 minutes

Rating: PG Parental Guidance Suggested.

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

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Although it's ambitious and visually stunning, It is 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
Keegan-Michael Key ... Hugo
Chris Bauer ... Frank's Dad
Thomas Robinson ... Young Frank Walker
Pierce Gagnon ... Nate Newton
Matthew MacCaull ... Dave Clark
Judy Greer ... Jenny Newton


The picture begins with  Frank Walker (George Clooney) arguing with 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 emerald 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 via what amount to vandalism. 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.

The script goes on to explain what’s going on, trying desperately—and unsuccessfully—to do so in a fashion that will satisfy action-adventure fans. But all the hubbub is really nothing more than the 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, is greatly diluted when animated. 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, of course, 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 title world) look fine. He has especially fertile ground in a couple of the creations of production designer Scott Chambliss and supervising art director Ramsey Avery—Walker’s house, jammed with Rube Goldberg-like security devices, and the Houston collectibles shop.

The behind-the-camera contributions are generally so top-drawer that they throw the insipidity of the dialogue and action into even greater relief. “Where’s the bomb?” a character shouts in the film’s climatic confrontation. One is tempted to voice a reply: “There, on the screen.” But please, withhold your comment until the lights come up.

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