Along with my annual years-end "Best Of" list, which is comprised of 20 movies and a number of honorable mentions, I compile a much shorter list; not of the worst films, because bad movies are generally just dull, inept and forgettable, but of the five "Most Annoying Films of the Year." It's only May, and I don't want to jump the gun, but I will say this: Tomorrowland is certainly the most annoying flick I've seen so far this year.
We've all grown up with Tomorrowland, the retro-futuristic part of Disneyland and Disney World's Magic Kingdom. You've likely seen the ads for the movie. They showcase a gorgeous city of the future with people jet-packing through blue skies around exotic buildings. Regardless of its plot, one can safely assume that a movie titled Tomorrowland will, at least mostly, take place in Tomorrowland, right?
Nope. We get a good look at the wonders of Tomorrowland for a minute or so, but most of the movie consists of non-futuristic road trips, chases and fight scenes. Aside from a poised little girl that never ages, the other characters are not very interesting, and that includes George Clooney, who spends most of the movie being grouchy. Are you interested in watching George Clooney act grouchy? Me neither.
The film has a message, too. Don't worry about missing it, because the filmmakers are more than happy to POUND IT INTO YOU.
So we've got a movie about a futuristic city that doesn't spend much time in the futuristic city, instead focusing on a road trip/chase plot line with mostly uninteresting characters. Clearly Tomorrowland is the work of a bunch of hacks, then.
Here's where things get truly annoying. The film is directed by Brad Bird, whose work includes The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol. The screenplay and story is by Bird, Damon Lindelof (Lost, Cowboys & Aliens, Prometheus, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Leftovers) and Jeff Jensen (those interesting, obsessive Lost articles and recaps in Entertainment Weekly.)
I greatly admire Bird. I mostly loved Lost and I got a kick out of Jensen's elaborate musings. Granted, those other Lindelof credits range from misguided to aggressively bad, and Jensen's lack of experience isn't encouraging, but it's still difficult to imagine these guys taking the Tomorrowland of our childhoods and turning it into Tomorrowland the disappointing movie.
A note to parents: Tomorrowland is rated PG, because apparently it's okay to tear people apart — I'm talking about ripping off heads and bashing skulls until they change shapes — as long as the victims are robots that look exactly like people but aren't. So if your sensitive kids are horrified by the violent goings on, just remind them that mutilation doesn't count unless it happens to "real" people.
When Tomorrowland gets it right, as in a rocket scene in Paris or the fleeting moments where we actually get a good look of the city, it fully lives up to its promise. But those moments account for only a few minutes of the overly long (two hours and 10 minutes) movie. A bit of wonder is not worth sitting through the repetition and tedium of Tomorrowland.
Opening: Thursday in wide release