Monday, February 3, 2014

Stream a charmer: Mitchell & Walker's adorable sci-fi/musical, THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK

Irresistible. That pretty much covers this one-of-a-kind sweetheart of a movie, THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK, directed by John Mitchell (no, not Martha's late husband) and Jeremy Kipp Walker, with a screenplay by Mr. Mitchell. From the Netflix description alone, you might just stick this one on your to-see list. That would be a good thing because the movie itself is so enchanting and endearing in its simple, storybook manner that, if you love tall tales and movies done with a tiny budget and major talent, you can't go wrong.

Mitchell (shown at left) and Walker below, right) conceive a story of an alien race come to take over earth via one, General Trius from planet Hondo (yes, let's hear a shout-out to John Wayne!). But then, our general hears something that makes him immediately fall in love with earth and decide to stick around awhile.

Soon, he is joined by a second alien named Kevin, sent as a follow-up plan to make certain the
original plan is followed -- and fast. But Kevin, too, quickly succumbs. Soon this very odd duo are making music and singing their bizarre-but delightful little songs to an ever more crowded Brooklyn bar-and-stage venue. The story here is simplicity itself, and so are the songs our two heroes sing. Yet the music -- bluegrassy and sweet, with lovely harmonies and lyrics that make you listen and grin -- is (in the best sense of the word) precious. And the telling of the tale is done so sweetly and straight, with hardly a moment pushed or a feeling overdone, that tagging along is as easy as pie.

The cast is just right, too -- from the hunky/handsome General Trius (Nils d'Aulaire, at left) and the rotund and comic Kevin (Jay Klaitz, below) to the lovely girls in their lives Julie Anne Emery, April L. Hernandez and Onota Aprile (yes, Maisie from What Maisie Knew!) -- so that the combo of writing, directing and acting joins forces to create something just about perfect. Keeping all the balls in the air -- and everyone concerned on the same page (to mix some metaphors) -- is never easy in a film in which so much depends on precisely the right tone. But everyone here manages to carry it off beautifully. So much so, in fact, that rather soon after the film starts, you simply relax into its oddness, lean back and enjoy.

As much as a sweet sci-fi tale, the movie is also a paean to the joy of music -- something that nearly all of us can understand and believe in, I think. It imagines a world quite similar to Brooklyn in which police are kind and helpful, and your neighbors are, too.

It even imagines a universe in which one world can aid another, even if -- for the sake of a few moments of scary monster stuff (above) -- we meet that proverbial fly in the ointment.

So grab your kids (or grandkids; in fact any other family members and friends), sit 'em down in front of the TV, and give them and yourself a whopping good time. You can catch The History of Future Folk now via Netflix streaming, as well as on Amazon Instant Video -- or on DVD, for rental or purchase.

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