Mosaic / Reviews / April 8, 2015

Flix: “The History of Future Folk” an offbeat adventure tale

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Flix is a weekly series that reviews a movie available on Netflix. This week, I review the 2012 film “The History of Future Folk.”

I’m not quite sure why exactly I’ve always been drawn to “weird” movies; the movies with absurd premises or obnoxiously quirky characters. I suppose my propensity for “weird” movies derives from an appreciation of creative or original storytelling. These days, it seems like a movie with a creative or original storyline is of an exceedingly rare variety. But this week, I think I found a movie that’s quite like no other, a “weird” movie that maintains its own idiosyncratic charm and outlandish storyline that somehow work to create a movie with a class of charisma and humor of its very own. That film is the 2012 action/adventure film “The History of Future Folk.”

Set in the offbeat spots of Brooklyn, N.Y., the film follows the unbelievable (possibly exaggerated) true story of Future Folk, a folk music comedy duo active on New York’s off-Broadway scene. Bill Hunt (played by Nils d’Aulaire) is more than your average young father and folk singer, he is also General Trius, an alien from the planet Hondo who has been sent to earth to annihilate humankind and to save his home planet from a catastrophic comet (or something like that). During his time on earth, he becomes exposed to music for the first time and becomes infatuated in earthling musical folk stylings. The story’s a bit zany, I know, but somehow the hilariously eccentric premise works in a script that’s simultaneously natural and eccentric.

Screenwriter John Mitchell has produced a script that, despite its bizarre plot, hardly seems contrived at all. Although the film utilizes a few too many cliched plot devices and stock characters (the gullible daughter, the stubby sidekick, countless alien-earthling miscommunication jokes), the film’s quick pacing and well-timed gags keep the viewer perpetually entertained. Mitchell definitely knows how to use an arsenal of jokes strategically and effectively; he never loses the audience’s attention for a second, and the hilarious situations he forces his characters into (like a cross-cut sequence between a tango lesson and an alien skirmish) maintain the story’s excitement.

Although the film maintains its own creative storyline, it thoughtfully remembers to poke fun at the tropes we’ve grown to expect from standard alien movies. With two separate romantic subplots, including one between an alien and a police officer, Mitchell takes those banal tropes and flips them on their heads.

While its witty script is something to admire, the film’s best feature is by far its soundtrack. As Future Folk is a real life musical comedy duo, all the songs performed in the movie are real songs the duo performs live. Their bluegrass musical stylings combined with their outer space-themed lyrics produces songs that are charmingly offbeat and hilarious. Their song “Space Worms” is a particularly sweet show tune about the characters’ lives and upbringings and is well worth a listen.

The 2012 film “The History of Future Folk” creatively packs quirky characters and a zany plot into a fun and delightful movie. Despite its fair share of comedic moments, the film never exhausts its jokes or its plot. Rather, it paces itself well to ensure that the audience doesn’t grow tired of its humor, action or sight gags. “The History of Future Folk” is a reminder that with a fun, thoughtful script and good soundtrack, anything is possible.

Stefan Torralba

Tags:  Flix folk future history reviews

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