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Zack Mosley [Celluloid 11.05.12] scifi comedy drama

Here's a chapter of history you may not be familiar with…

General Trius (Nils d'Aulaire) is from the planet Hondo, doomed to obliteration by an asteroid. He is sent to Earth with a mission: to infect the human race with a deadly virus, thus making way for the Hondonian invasion. But General Trius abandons his mission when he hears music for the first time (the muzak in Costco brings him to a state of ecstasy). Instead of genocide, he opts to become "Bill" and settle down with a wife and kid. He retires his red space suit and bucket helmet, except for an occasional gig at a hipster lounge run by Dee Snyder, where he plays bluegrass banjo and sings about space worm farming. Enter The Mighty Kevin (Jay Klaitz), a Hondonian assassin sent to succeed where General Trius has failed. But Kevin also abandons his mission when Bill captures him and serenades him with sweet music from his banjo. The two team up to become Future Folk, a Flight of the Conchords/Tenacious D-style novelty act, and their fanbase grows. But Hondo is still doomed and sending would-be assassins to commit mass genocide, so soon our Future Folk need to settle this intergalactic strife once and for all.

In case it's not already obvious, The History of Future Folk is not meant to be credible science fiction, instead using the genre elements as a backdrop to tell a very human (or Hondonian, I suppose) story. General Trius' Hondonian origins are relayed to us through bedtime stories and crayon drawings, and the film doesn't attempt to get much deeper into the sci-fi conceit than that. This is a low budget indie, but it transforms limitations into charming quirk. Buckets don't exist on Hondo, so how are Bill and Kevin supposed to know that they look silly on Earth? That type of thing. I would compare the general feel of the movie to something like Safety Not Guaranteed, even if the plot description reads more like Galaxy Quest. That said, there is no ambiguity here. Bill and Kevin are definitely from Hondo, and they have the glowing kung fu fists and stun guns to prove it. The sci-fi and fantasy elements are simply ingredients in a much larger genre stew, which includes comedy, romance, music, and a tango number. Surprisingly, everything works quite well together, and the schizophrenic tonal issues that often plague genre-benders of this ilk are totally absent.

The History of Future Folk is an adorable film that wears its heart on its sleeve. The idea that murderous aliens would be seduced by our music is a cheerfully optimistic notion, and a good indication of where the hearts and minds of the filmmakers are at. Bill and Kevin make for immensely likeable leads, they're easy to root for and they have real chemistry as a musical act. Both Future Folk are given love interests, adding a bit of sweetener to the mix. While Bill needs to own up to his secret Hondonian past that he has never shared with his wife, Kevin attempts to seduce an attractive policewoman who keeps arresting him. All of this is exactly as cute as it sounds. I want to be careful not to set reader expectations too high, as this is a very small movie that has been getting some very glowing reviews. But there's just so much heart-melting goodness in this story that I can't imagine anyone having a negative reaction to it.

As if the movie itself wasn't enough to win me over, d'Aulaire, Klatz, and co-directors John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker Skyped in after the screening (from post-Hurricane Sandy New York, of all places) to play us a song in full costume. Apparently, d'Aulaire and Klatz are a real musical act who have been doing this for years, and trying to convince Mitchell and Walker to make the movie for nearly as long. They have a website (, an album (Future Folk Vol. 1), and a cult following in their native borough of Brooklyn. Although this is Mitchell and Walker's first feature film as (co)directors, Walker has an impressive list of producer credits that includes the Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden films Half Nelson, Sugar, and It's Kind of a Funny Story. If The History of Future Folk is playing in a galaxy near you, prepare to be conquered by its unique charm.

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