Stars: Nils d’Aulaire, Jay Klaitz, Julie Ann Emery, April L Hernandez, Onata Aprile and Dee Snider.
Writer: John Mitchell.
Directors: John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker.
Two humanoid aliens from the planet Hondo fall in love with music and the people they were sent to destroy in co-directors John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker’s hilarious, heartwarming gem, The History of Future Folk.
An all-too-rare example of the cynicism-free modern comedy, this charmer stars the real-life conceptual performance duo of the title in an origins story that outlines how they came to be amongst us Earth folk and singing sweet, toe-tapping bluegrass tunes about life on their home planet. If it sounds nutty, it is; but it is also an effortlessly lovable study in friendship, the power of the imagination and the joy of a musical awakening.
Quite astonishingly, leading man Nils d’Aulaire makes his acting debut as Bill, the young family man who works at a JPL-like institute as a janitor, though has convinced his wife Holly (Julie Ann Emery) that he is a researcher. He shares detailed, melancholic bedtime stories with daughter Wren (Onata Aprile) of a planet far away called Hondo, before disappearing into the night to play a unique brand of banjo tunes at a sparsely populated club run by friend, Larry (ex-Twisted Sister frontman, Dee Snider).
But Bill is hiding a vast past life in which he was General Trius, Hondo’s greatest soldier, sent to Earth to destroy the population so that his people could relocate; Hondo, it seems, is under threat by a giant meteor. But having fallen in love with music and our people, Bill’s mission is at risk. Enter chubby Hondo envoy Kevin (Broadway veteran Jay Klaitz), who is tasked with fulfilling General Trius’ mission but who also falls for music (and April L Hernandez’ pretty cop, Carmen) in a big way. Soon, they are playing to packed houses wearing their official Hondonian red-helmet and jumpsuit garb, despite that pesky meteor still threatening their planet.
The pairing of d’Aulaire, resembling a more insular version of Paul Rudd, and the eternally effervescent Klaitz provides endless comedic juxtapositioning and great chemistry on-screen; think Tenacious D minus the overt obnoxiousness. Klaitz evokes unbridled joy in scenes such as when he first hears Bill’s banjo or, in one of several beautiful scenes with co-star Hernandez, serenades her in her native tongue.
Though one assumes it to be a low-budgeter, The History of Future Folk is a polished and professional production, guided with a remarkably assured hand by two first-time directors who should have their pick of studio comedy fare in no time based upon their work here.
If there is one downside, it is that the current model of film exhibition works at just too fast a pace for films like The History of Future Folk. Today, it is most likely the target audience watch it on their preferred tablet; 20 years ago, a savvy distributor would have rolled it out to college campuses and arthouse cinemas before the overwhelming word-of-mouth launched it into the mainstream and on the path the sleeper hit glory. Where possible, see it with an enthusiastic, like-minded paying audience.