In Defense of Tomorrowland
I know, I’m late to the party when it comes to the summer blockbusters out there.
Still . . . I took my kids, late to the game, to see the Brad Bird/Damon Lindeloff movie Tomorrowland. I heard all the criticisms and the complaints and the fact that it might have only taken in, what, a fourth of what the Pixar (Disney, too) movie Inside Out did this same weekend?
Slate’s movie critic had a podcast and also a review where she found holes in the plot and lacked understanding and exposition where she said she thought it needed them.
I’m going to say, though, with my expectations highly tempered and skeptical, I noticed something I really hadn’t expected.
I’m not certain most adults really got the point.
It wasn’t the environmental and “prepare for disaster” message that the movie was trying to sell.
For my kids, the four people who walked through their own personal tragedy when losing their mother, the whole political message wasn’t the point. Which made me realize . . . it wasn’t really the point of the movie, either.
I have told my kids a few things as their only parent in the last four years. My oldest daughter worried about getting into college and choosing a career. I told her that she had to do what she was passionate about, what drove her, what made her curious and happy. It isn’t work if you enjoy what you do. (She later turned those words back on me but that’s for a later post)
I also told them that “wishing on a star” or “really, really wanting it” wasn’t going to get you anywhere, either. If you have talents, you should use them. Work hard at anything, learn all you can about it and you will succeed.
I also had them stay positive. The world can beat you down, that’s for sure. In our case that’s particularly true. Yet my kids have remained positive. Like the girl in the movie, Casey Newton, my kids had their moments of doubt and struggle, but they never believed we couldn’t make it. They never once thought that things were so bad that we couldn’t band together and stay together.
There are a bunch of things to like about this film. Casey’s dad isn’t some distant, always-at-work jackass. He’s a Dad. He’s involved, she loves him, and I think my kids related to the fact that Casey only had a dad. They also show a heroine that thinks. That’s not always the case, either.
The world had beaten down George Clooney’s character.
But the idea that a dreamer is what the world needs . . . that’s the message. At one point, in the middle of Tomorrowland, a giant quote from Einstein: “imagination is more important than knowledge” is front and center. That was the point of this movie.
When my wife passed away, it wasn’t therapy or group angst or anything that helped me get through. It was necessary, for sure, and I’m not saying they aren’t important – they are. But for me . . . creativity and dreaming and thinking about a possible future, one that exists with the five of us in it . . . that was more important. My kids related to the fact that their father told them it was okay to dream . . . and to work hard on that dream. It may not happen, but I’ll be damned if you didn’t try hard to make it so. It wasn’t from lack of faith or belief . . . Tomorrowland did that, too. My kids watched the wonder and laughed at Clooney’s grumpy demeanor (which may have been them laughing at me, too, I think) and I realized that kids get this movie.
Lots of adults don’t because . . . well . . . life may have beaten them down just a bit.
I may be missing the holes in the movie that the NY Times, Chronicle, Slate and others saw. Still, my kids got it. Holes and all.
And through all that . . . it’s not a superhero movie. It’s a movie that took some big chances and there just aren’t enough of those any more.
So I defend Tomorrowland. I think it’s worth giving a chance for what I think is the real message behind the movie.