Review: ‘Strange World’ a sleep-inducing disappointment

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Father and son estrangement? Check! Interracial marriage? Check! LGBTQ+ characters? Check! Three-legged dog? Check! Okay, now let’s go adventuring! Yayyyy-ah-awwwn… Zzz.

Yes, the new Disney animated flick, Strange World, checks most of the current culture’s “woke” boxes, but the filmmakers forgot that diversity alone does not a good movie make. I’m a pretty “liberal” guy and I was really looking forward to this film, but what a disappointment.

If you are like me and you were hoping for an old school pulp-magazine styled sci-fi adventure, you’ll find that was all just an on-the-surface gimmick that doesn’t go much beyond a cool-looking movie poster.

Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is the world’s greatest adventurer, even though that world only exists of a valley encased by mountains that no one has ever been past. While on a mission to make it to the other side of said mountains, Jaeger’s son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), gives up on his old man’s passion project and returns home with a glowing plant he found.

The mysterious plant, called Pando, revives the quiet valley and turns it into a utopia for everyone (unless you hate farming.) Until one day the plants start sputtering out and Searcher’s old friends show up to enlist his help in saving the city by literally going to the root source of the problem, deep within the earth (or wherever this Strange World is located.)

Sleep-inducing silliness ensues as Searcher’s son (Jaboukie Young-White), stows away onboard the mission’s slightly Steampunk aircraft, and Searcher’s wife (Gabrielle Union) shows up too, saving them all from an early demise.

Sure, it’s Disney, but I was hoping for something a little more hard-boiled than the soft, pink, cotton-candy-cutesy, “My Little Pony-ish” place this movie takes you to. It’s not inventive, it’s just fluffy and boring. I can’t imagine kids being able to stay awake and patient through the 102 minutes of this film – for sure I couldn’t.

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