Friday, June 14, 2013

The History of Future Folk

Tell me a bedtime story, Wren (Onata Aprile from "What Maisie Knew") asks of her father, Bill (Nils d'Aulaire). Your favorite one? Yes, please. Okay.
Far across the universe sits the planet of Hondo. Threatened with the destruction of their planet by a comet that's loomed stationary above them for 75 years, the Hondonians send their most decorated military man, General Trius, on a mission: Kill all Earthlings with a flesh-eating virus and render Earth livable for them to relocate. General Trius arrives at what looks like a Wal-Mart somewhere outside Brooklyn and is about to unleash his intergalactic fury when he hears music - or Muzak, at least - and his worldview instantly transforms. Music is the best thing that's ever happened to him. He aborts his mission, assumes the identity of an Earthling, marries, and starts a family. What Bill doesn't tell Wren is that the story is true, and oh by the way, he - Bill - Dad! - is General Trius.

The Hondonians, meanwhile, send an assassin - the oversized and inept Kevin - to slay General Trius and resume their takeover of Earth. Of course, Bill - er, General Trius - has no trouble turning Kevin; he just plays some bluegrass for him and that's that. The Hondonians' last and best shot - a hilariously cheaply costumed alien not amenable to musical persuasion - represents the only remaining threat to their eternal happiness. Well, that and getting red-bucket-headed humans to attend their gigs at the dive bar owned by Larry (Dee Snider of Twisted Sister).

If you'd asked me beforehand, I'd have predicted I would hate "The History of Future Folk." Cutesiness tends to rub me like fingernails on a blackboard. But, much to my surprise, the low-key sweetness of the film carried the day. The key is that everybody plays it with a straight face, starting with d'Aulaire, who never seems to look up from the task at hand. He looks a bit like a young Keanu Reeves with more volume to his hair. Could "Future Folk" have made a great short? Probably. As a feature, it's just unobtrusive enough to stay on your good side for 80 minutes and disappear into the ether.

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