As a coming-of-age story, this dramedy is a little too cute and neat, especially given that it's about shabby, edgy punk rock. But its flawless casting and chemistry lend it a goodwill that's hard to resist. Adapted from a novel by Peter Bognanni, The House of Tomorrow is the feature debut of writer/director Peter Livolsi, and it's a clean, polished little story, with no offending edges. Whether real-life teens will recognize any of the behaviors of these movie teens remains to be seen, but the characters are certainly likable.
Butterfield and Wolff make fun opposites, with Butterfield conveying a life of sheltered inexperience. Wolff, meanwhile, expresses a full appreciation for a music genre that ignited well before his lifetime (his room is decorated like a 1980s club, scrawled with deep-listen band names). Likewise, Burstyn is tough and wonderful (a real-life photograph shows that she did, in fact, know Fuller) and Offerman manages to be his usual snidely funny self while still conveying a father's care and concern. Livolsi uses the dome house like a wonderland, making it seem like a special place that's the opposite of the other locations in the movie; he develops a physical struggle between spaces. Overall, there's not much at stake here, and not much is risked, but The House of Tomorrow is a home where the heart is.