Review: The History of Future Folk


Director:J. Anderson Mitchell, Jeremy Kipp Walker

Cast:Nils d'Aulaire, Jay Klaitz, Julie Ann Emery, April Hernandez Castillo

Running Time:86 Minutes


Sometimes, directors who want to make a big-time comic book movie will prove their chops by making their own. Sam Raimi did it with Darkman and was rewarded with the Spider-Man trilogy. James Gunn did it with Super, and now he's working on Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. I can't speak for the directors' ambitions, but The History of Future Folk feels like such a movie.

It's got the same rough-around-the-edges feel as those films, along with some humor and a deep love for the works that inspired it. Unfortunately, it's not very good, but earns a lot of points for its earnestness, music and charm.

The biggest problem is its lead (Nils d'Aulaire, making his feature debut) as Bill is far too mopey to carry a story that's lighthearted most of the time. He plays the devoted father of Wren (Onata Aprile, getting raves in What Maisie Knew) and not-so-devoted husband of Holly (Julie Ann Emery). He loves to tell his daughter a bedtime story about the planet of Hondo and the brave general who saved the planet from a comet.

Turns out that bedtime story is real. Bill really is that general from Hondo, but he hasn't saved the day yet. He was sent to earth, not to save his planet, but to wipe out ours. But he can't do that because he's fallen in love with music, which apparently does not exist on Hondo. So he's been toiling away for years looking for a way to save both planets.

Naturally, the Hondonian people aren't too pleased that he hasn't come back yet and they're still facing impending doom. But the guy they've sent to bring him home isn't exactly an elite fighter. He's a schlubby guy with glasses who gets winded during chases. It's at this point that the film switches from a meditation on loneliness to a Laurel & Hardy/Flight of the Conchords hybrid. The switch is jarring but at least more entertaining.

There are more gags, song, and heart in the rest of the movie, but it can't exactly save the film as a whole, particularly since it's not that funny. This is definitely family-friendly without being lame, but it's nothing groundbreaking either.

Perhaps its biggest failure is the relationship between Bill and Holly. Despite the heartfelt reunion we all know is coming, I never believed their love for a second. But the father-daughter section works like gangbusters.

I can't wholeheartedly recommend The History of Future Folk, but I'm definitely big on the potential the directors possess. The only way they can go is up. 


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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