The biggest attraction of “Tomorrowland” is obvious: George Clooney stars. The fantasy drama, which opens Friday, imagines an alternate world where, as Clooney says in the trailer, “nothing is impossible.”
The next-biggest attraction: Brad Bird directed. Bird’s track record is hard to beat: “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” and his one live-action effort, “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” If he can combine the imaginativeness of the first three with the excitement of the fourth, watch out. Bird co-wrote the script with Damon Lindelof, of “Lost” fame.
There’s another attraction. It doesn’t stand out the way Clooney and Bird do. Drop that final syllable from “Tomorrowland.” What’s left is a word that has intrigued not just moviegoers, but music lovers and readers, too.
Yesterday is gone. Today is going. But tomorrow? Ah, tomorrow is always there, to lure us on. Consider some examples.
“The Day After Tomorrow” (2004) Roland Emmerich’s climate-change FX-fest may have seemed as implausible back then as his invading-extraterrestrials “Independence Day.” It’s beginning to look like a Weather Channel audition tape.
“Tomorrow” (Martin Charnin, lyrics/Charles Strouse, music) What would “Annie” be without that upbeat showstopper? It doesn’t matter who’s singing it, from Sarah Jessica Parker on Broadway in 1979 to Quvenzhané Wallis, in last year’s movie, “Tomorrow” is can’t-miss.
“Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997) Pierce Brosnan’s next-to-last outing as 007 features not one but two Bond girls (Teri Hatcher and Michelle Yeoh) and Jonathan Pryce as a rather Rupert Murdoch-like media mogul. What's not to like?
“Tom Tomorrow” That’s the pen name of Dan Perkins, whose retro-futurist imagination powers the weekly comic strip “This Modern World.” Perkins was a Pulitzer finalist last month for editorial cartooning.
“Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” (2004) Speaking of retro-futurist, Kerry Conran’s one-of-a-kind fantasy is set in 1939 New York (see below), and features an invasion of giant robots, a flying aircraft carrier, and Angelina Jolie wearing an eyepatch.
“The world of tomorrow” (slogan of the 1939 New York World’s Fair) That was the fair famous for the Trylon and Perisphere. Unfortunately, it opened four months before the outbreak of World War II, casting “tomorrow” in rather a different light.
“Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” (1963) The title of Vittorio De Sica’s comic three-part anthology sounds even better in Italian, “Ieri, oggi, domani.” Best of all is getting to see Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni do their match-made-in-movie-heaven Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni thing.
“After all, tomorrow is another day” (“Gone with the Wind”) OkayOK, so Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) frankly doesn’t a give damn. Fine. Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) knows that chronology is on her side. At least in theory.
“Tomorrow Belongs to Me” (Fred Ebb, lyrics/John Kander, music) A very different view of the promise of the future comes in “Cabaret.” How different? The “Me” in question is a Hitler Youth member.
“Tomorrow Never Knows” (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) Beatles songs are credited to Lennon/McCartney. But some are clearly John, and some clearly Paul. This is pure John: the doominess, the musical drone, the sense of personal quest. The last track on “Revolver,” it’s also the first track on the next phase of the band’s career.
“Edge of Tomorrow” (2014) Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt battle space aliens, and she’s tougher than he is. That’s all right, because of a “Groundhog Day” touch: He keeps coming back to life to fight the battle all over again until he wins.
“Tomorrow Is a Long Time” (Bob Dylan) Dylan wrote it in the early ’60s, but didn’t release a recording of it until 1971. It’s been covered by everyone from Dion to Rod Stewart to Nick Drake. Dylan has called Elvis Presley’s 1966 recording his favorite cover of any of his songs.
“Tomorrow” (1973-1981) NBC had had a lot of success with “Today” and “Tonight,” so why not “Tomorrow”? The show could definitely be a long time when Tom Snyder was waving that cigarette, intoning those ponderous tones, and, sporting that king of comb-overs.
“Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959) Robert Wise’s crime drama stars Robert Ryan and Harry Belafonte as bank robbers. The twist? Ryan is a racist, and Belafonte is — Belafonte. John Lewis, of the Modern Jazz Quartet, composed the score, which the MJQ performs.
“All Tomorrow’s Parties” (William Gibson) Set in the near future (hence the title), it’s the final novel in Gibson’s “Bridge” trilogy. The bridge in question is the one between Oakland and San Francisco. Other title claimants are a Velvet Underground song, a music festival, and a 2009 documentary about the festival.
“Make Way for Tomorrow” (1937) Leo McCarey knew how to make viewers laugh (“Duck Soup,” “The Awful Truth”). He also knew how to make them cry, and never more so than in this story of an elderly couple forced to leave their home and live apart.
“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” (“Macbeth,” Act V, Scene 5)
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Shakespeare, you might say, is the “Tomorrowland” of writers. Truly, nothing is impossible for him.Mark Feeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.