Earlier on Monday, I reviewed “The Tomorrow War,” a solid summer action/sci-fi flick starring Chris Pratt and J.K. Simmons that, while not quite measuring up to the masterpiece that was Independence Day, comes close enough to run in its pack.
While most reviews I’ve seen from viewers are generally positive, the professional critics couldn’t get close to “The Tomorrow War” without looking like they smelled something foul the dog left behind on the carpet. As of this writing, “The Tomorrow War” has a 53 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes from professional critics.
Quick aside, the audience score currently sits at 82 percent, and that usually means it’s a pretty solid film, but I digress.
Many critics dog the film for various reasons. Many commented on the film’s lack of originality or claim it has a bland storyline delivered to us by even blander characters. Many complained that Pratt’s character was too far removed from his lane of being the goofy but loveable knucklehead. I couldn’t help but wonder if we had all watched the same movie.
To be sure, “The Tomorrow War” isn’t a perfect film but it was solid enough to stand on its own and officially become my favorite movie of 2021. What’s more, Pratt trading in his usual goofiness for a more subdued and serious performance allowed him to fit into the role of protective father well. In fact, his somber portrayal of an Iraq veteran turned biology teacher who knows he can achieve greater heights is refreshing. My only complaint would be that he stays a little too cool under pressure in unbelievable situations, but even that can be overlooked thanks to his character’s motivation.
As to the complaint that there seems to be nothing groundbreaking here in terms of plot, they’re not necessarily wrong, but that’s like giving a rom-com a bad score because we’ve seen meet-cutes before.
Regardless, websites are throwing some seriously horrific scores at the film. IGN gave it a 3/10, which makes little sense given its usual willingness to throw 7’s at even the most mundane or horrific films and television shows. Indiewire gave it a “C,” but gave Pixar’s latest outing “Luca” a B+, a movie my wife and I found so dull that we wondered whether or not it should have been one of their shorts instead of a feature-length film. Polygon didn’t hand out a score but was unrelentingly brutal to the movie on everything from its plot to the monster design.
The brutality toward the movie makes little sense and it’s one that many audience members seemed confused by as well. The movie is imperfect and over-the-top at times but it’s far from bad. It’s enough to make one sense some underlying prejudice in terms of their hatred for it, and in order to find that we need only turn to the socio-political realm.
If there’s one thing we do know it’s that the left has an open hatred for Pratt. Pratt is a patriotic, Christian, white male that is unapologetic about it all. Every celebrity that has ever worked alongside him openly defends him from online mobs, even those who are considered far to the left. What’s more, putting Pratt’s name on a poster is enough to make a good chunk of America show up to see the movie. All of this together makes the left very angry. A Hollywood actor who doesn’t fall in line with approved politics and causes of the bubble is one thing, but someone who does that and is still successful is enough to drive people mad.
As a result, many activists, critics, and online moviegoers would love to see Pratt fail more than anything. Any movie he’s in must be denounced and destroyed for fear that producers will continue to cast him and his influence would threaten, not just the industry, but the people. Normalizing Chris Pratt would be normalizing a traditional yet dynamic worldview.
While that’s a large reason for the hatred toward the film, the other is the message that the film pushes.
For all intents and purposes, “The Tomorrow War” could be labeled as a “dad movie.” Masculinity plays a large part in this film and it’s given even more weight due to the fact that this masculinity is used to protect and support a daughter both when she’s a child and when she’s a capable adult. It even pushes redemption arcs for fathers who had abandoned their families in the past and even opened the door for sympathizing with men who suffered emotional scars from previous wars.
One scene has Pratt’s character, Dan Forester, confront his father James (J.K. Simmons) over abandoning him and his mother when Dan was a child. James, clearly wrestling with his guilt, explains that the PTSD he suffered from his tour in Vietnam affected him in ways so negative that it would have been worse for Dan and his mother if he had stayed. It’s a foundational moment in the movie that drives Forester’s motivations throughout the movie, especially after he hears he did the same to his daughter in the future.
The movie not only asks you to look upon masculinity with kinder eyes, but it also shows you its value and that the presence of a father makes a world of difference in a child’s life. In today’s socio-political atmosphere, masculinity can be nothing but toxic. It’s a mustache-twisting villain good for nothing but being evil for no other reason than it can.
Finally, there’s a racial/gender/military aspect to the movie that seems to have the critics angry and it’s summed up in the last two paragraphs of Polygon’s review:
Instead, the guiding objective of The Tomorrow War, a movie in which every female, Black, or POC character plays second fiddle to Dan’s strong white guy, is to persuade us that this suburban veteran is absolutely right when he believes he’s worthy of more than a stable job and a loving family. “I want to be the best, like you are,” Dan’s daughter tells him. “Thank you for your service, again,” a fellow soldier says. “You’re the mission now,” the character who is presented as humanity’s last hope tells Dan when she makes him humanity’s last hope.
We get it! This average, blue-collar American is worthy of all our admiration! That approach is so clobbering and clunky that The Tomorrow War is constantly tripping over itself while delivering it. At least Richardson is having fun with lines like “I’m just glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this” when they drop into 2051’s devastated Miami, and Simmons chews the hell out of “I wish Stevie Nicks would show up in her birthday suit with a jar of pickles and a bottle of baby oil.” They’re welcome interruptions in the otherwise dreadfully self-serious The Tomorrow War.
There’s no attempt to hide the prejudice for white, middle-class, working men here. The snide inclusion of “suburban veteran” gives it all away. They don’t appreciate that kind of character being the hero, especially if that means women and/or minorities have to play the second fiddle. It’s the bigoted icing on top of the prejudicial cake the woke force-feed themselves.
My advice? Ignore the critics and watch “The Tomorrow War.” It’s a breath of fresh air in a time when movies are either too political or too boring. What’s more, it’ll show production companies that if they want to attract an audience, they should probably stop attempting to push messages and instead push actual entertainment free of hard-left influence.