"Tomorrowland," the sci-fi Disney film that stars George Clooney as a former boy genius, opens in theaters today. In the film, which is part mystery and part thriller, Frank (Clooney) and hyper-smart teen Casey (Britt Robertson) reluctantly pair up on a quest to rediscover a mysterious utopian city.
While the film offers up kid-friendly entertainment, here are a few things moms need to know before they head to the box office.
1. There's a Hopeful Message
While Clooney's character Frank, who starts off as a wide-eyed kid inventor, is mostly shown as a jaded, grumpy man, "Tomorrowland" ultimately wants to spark kids' imaginations and encourage them to go out and make the world a better place.
2. It's PG, but ...
The film is rated PG, but parents should know that there are several violent scenes in the movie, including fights with cyborg-type creatures that look just like humans ... until their heads pop off and land on pavement or become misshapen after being hit.
3. Serious Girl Power
Big high-fives to screenwriter Damon Lindelof ("Lost") for creating strong, sassy and smart female characters in Casey (Robertson) and Athena (Raffey Cassidy). Casey is a science-loving teen who knows her way around a NASA launchpad and a drone, while Athena is beyond articulate and persistent. (That last word is actually a bit of an understatement.)
4. Relationship Drama That Spans a Large Age Range
Spoiler alert, so jump to No. 5 if you'd rather not know. In the film, young Frank (Thomas Robinson) befriends a little girl whom he gradually begins to fall for. And even though he'll turn into George Clooney, she's just not that into him. Little Frank's broken heart isn't the awkward part, though. It's grown-up Frank's broken heart that's a little hard to reconcile, especially since the girl he knew way back when hasn't aged a day. Yes, Clooney has to share his jilted feelings with a tween robot. And while it's not romantic in any way, it might make some parents uncomfortable.
5. Fascinating Backstory
Audiences will get fun glimpses of Disneyland in the film, and at a recent press conference, Lindelof revealed that Walt Disney wanted to create his own "Tomorrowland" of sorts, where futurists and inventors could try out their ideas and potentially collaborate with corporations to sell them. While we can see a fictional version of this onscreen, Disney's unexpected health decline due to lung cancer left these plans unrealized.
6. About That Message I Mentioned Earlier
Getting to the heart of the film, "Tomorrowland" and its creators really do seem earnest about wanting to make the world a better place. That message, however, ultimately takes over the movie at the expense of keeping audiences entertained and onboard for the twisty plot. Parents might feel barraged by the steady stream of condemnations about how horrible the world has become and how we've allowed it to evolve in that way.
7. The Plot
As anyone who's ever watched an episode of the former hit series "Lost" should know (and full disclosure: I was obsessed with that series), Lindelof is a writer who loves tricky plot twists. "Tomorrowland," however, just gets confusing. And if kids start asking you to explain, well, the answers might be as elusive as the fictional utopian city.