If there's one theme for me that I got from Fantastic Fest this year, it's that perseverance and optimism will always win out. This is a worldview that I happen to agree with, so when a movie like THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK comes across my radar, I can't help but embrace its simple beauty, charm, and wit. It's a movie that looks like it was made on the cheap, but the heart and soul on display outweighes practically every major Hollywood blockbuster around right now.
Bill (Nils d'Aulaire) is a family man, who when not working on his day job goes to a local Brooklyn music bar and plays bluegrass songs about spaceships, farming space worms, and his homeworld of Hondo, which is in imminent threat of destruction. Thing is, Bill really is from outer space - his real name is General Trius sent here to Earth to kill everyone with a virus so the people of Hondo can colonize it, because a comet is on a collision course with Hondo that will destroy their planet. Then he discovered music.
Bill's been here for ten years now, happily married to Holly (Julie Ann Embry) and helping raise their daughter with stories of Hondo. But Bill's absence has been noticed, and the powers-that-be from Hondo have sent another - Kevin (Jay Klaitz) - to make sure that Bill completes his mission. But when Kevin is also introduced to music (in one of the movie's best, funniest, and just flat-out terrific music moments), the two form a band and decide to change the world with their songs. But the comet is still coming, and together Future Folk must stop the imminent cataclysm from happening to not only Hondo, but Earth as well.
Sound a little Tenacious D'ish? Perhaps. But THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK is so full of charm and heart that audiences will easily overlook any comparisons, and besides, the movie's earnest nature should warm even the most cynical heart. THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK, full of rich emotion coupled with the really terrific folk music, is about as audience-friendly as any big box-office comedy in recent memory. Nils and Jay have written songs about aliens, fuzzy clawed beings, farming space worms, and all of them are done with such good humor that it's hard not to get caught up in their infectious charm. Plus, Dee Snider has a role in the movie. If the Twisted Sister frontman can embrace these guys, well, then we all can. "Let's rock this bitch," indeed, Mr. Snider.
The movie may feel slight to some, and that is unfortunate - sometimes little movies like this deserve the most championing. Directors John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker keep the laughs coming at a brisk pace, and THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK reminded me a bit of the movies of Jay and Mark Duplass or the early work of Wes Anderson - simple stories, told with joy and heart. There are great cinematic moments in THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK - Kevin trying to woo local police officer Carmen (April Hernandez) that he's smitten with with his newfound love of Spanish music, or Bill's impassioned singing of "Over The Moon" to his wife - that are powerful, funny, and moving. Even if the movie plays it silly at times, its heart is on its sleeve and the humor comes from such a warm place that you can't help but root for Bill and Kevin. One of the standouts of Fantastic Fest. Hondo!
You can find the music of Future Folk at their website, www.futurefolk.com.