Brad Bird’s new film Tomorrowland is the latest in a string of kids movies with a message about making. In the movie, Frank Walker creates a jetpack out of a vacuum cleaner, and brings it to the 1964 World’s Fair. Asked what purpose it serves, he says it is for fun, a product by and for dreamers and not (spoiler alert) for the dystopia that the movie’s United States will become.
The garage-inventor mythos that still fuels Silicon Valley becomes in Tomorrowland a battle between the haves and have-nots of imagination, with Albert Einstein (in the form of a Pinterest-style inspirational quote) on hand as patron saint. Frank’s ostensible protégée is, unusually, a girl, the gender-neutrally named Casey who asks (of the planet) “Can we fix it?”
But then she doesn’t get to make a jetpack. She only gets to admire.