Before I start, I want to say that I enjoyed Tomorrowland quite a bit. I found Casey engaging, and I loved George Clooney as a cranky scientist and even the very odd relationship at the heart of the movie worked.
Warning: Spoilers for Tomorrowland and the Mad Men finale ahead.
Tomorrowland is a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve, a story that believes in a better tomorrow if only people would believe in it. That it also stars George Clooney and starts with the song that still plays in DisneyWorld’s Carousel of Progresss, “A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” gives it serious bonus points in my eyes.
This is a fun movie to see with the family, a throwback to Disney films like The Absent-Minded Professor. As my eldest son put it, “It’s good but not Avengers-good.” He wanted a bigger ending, where Casey, supposedly the one who knows how things work, created a scientific solution to the problem of the world-ending. He’s right, the solution is a bit thin, though still fun.
At the same time I tried to buy into the stories’ idealism, I was also noticed all the product placement.
You know Disney already has a bucketload of the Tomorrowland badges ready and waiting to stock its stores. Perhaps it even has a store that’s a reproduction of the collectible stock in the movie. I also noticed the Coca-Cola product placement and, of course, the movie is based on Walt Disney’s idea of the perfect community, which is now a retro-look at a future that never happened.
The best comparison I can make is to the classic Coca-Cola commercial that ended Mad Men. This is a terrific commercial that put together people of all nationalities, calling for peace, featuring young people singing about hope for the future.
It was also written to sell us what’s essentially sugar water.
Tomorrowland is a longer version of the Coca-Cola commercial. It’s idealistic, hopeful, and it hits hard the idea that dreamers of all types matter, that there’s no problem that can’t be solved if we all just have hope and learn to work together, instead of holding each other down, as the villain of the movie did.
It also exists to sell audiences stuff, including those badges and Disney World itself.
I had a hard time forgetting that.