Our home boy and U.K. fan, George Clooney, has made a lot of different and different kinds of films to say the least. Disney, however, he has not done…. until now. He teams up with Hugh Laurie in this film to provide us with something of homily about fixing things in this world before instead of a utopia we end up with a dystopia on earth. But how can one fix the future in the present? Well naturally one has to go to the future…. and work backwards, so to speak. The key proves to be imagination and optimism, rather than pessimism and doubt. In other words, don’t expect a savior to show up from above and rescue planet earth, we’re going to have fix things ourselves. The formula for this movie is typical Disney namely ‘and a little child (or youth), shall lead them’. Its a formula that gets both kids and their parents into the theater quite successfully so it turns out. This movie is by no means a Disney classic, but it’s not bad, and it raises some good questions about our responsibility for earth care and the like.
The flow of the narrative is smooth enough, if one overlooks quite a few obvious holes in the story, and suspends one’s disbelief about things like a teenager being able to break into the launching area at Cape Kennedy and muck things up. The story begins and ends at the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, which yours truly actually attended as a Boy Scout (let’s all sing along now– ‘it’s a small world after all’). Frank Walker, child inventor shows up at the Hall of Invention with a jet pack idea that ‘almost’ works, but he is rejected by the villain of this piece Mr. Nix (appropriately named for someone so negative and people’s tendencies and the future) played by Laurie. George Clooney, in his more cantankerous stubbly persona plays the grown up Frank Walker, who years later has become a recluse and has no interest in saving the world. Enter Casey (played by Brittany Robertson) as a reluctant saver of the day (but with some skills, as her Dad is a NASA engineer and has taught her a thing or two). The movie involves a lot of hooey but also has good heart, and some decent CG as well including a rather interesting robot named Athena, of all things.
It’s a perfectly safe movie to take your kids to, and it might even prompt some good conversation about the future….. which is the point. Since the movie is only one hour and 47 minutes long at best, you’ll not need to go for popcorn refills or worry too much about your kids short attention spans. While the film is enjoyable, it is also safe, and bordering on innocuous. But that beats cynical, sarcastic, bombastic, and violent any day.