Every now and then there’s a film that comes completely out of nowhere and surprises the fuck out of you. I’m talking flicks like Black Dynamite, Junebug, Eagle Vs Shark, Paper Heart and Safety Not Guaranteed. They’re small, sure, but there’s something about them that transcends the limitations of an indie film and sees it projected into that cult list of movies that only the cool people who roll their own cigarettes at parties know about. The History of Future Folk is one such film. The story breaks down like this: Bill (Nil d’Aulaire) is a performance artist/musician trying to support his wife and young daughter. His gimmick is each night he tells the audience he’s an alien from outer space who was originally sent to Earth to destroy it. A beloved warrior known as General Trius from the planet Hondo, he performs in a red bucket and suit of armour that was his uniform when he arrived with an annihilation device. That is, until he heard music for the first time. See, on Hondo (which is also used as a form of hello and goodbye) they don’t have music. Upon hearing the sounds General Trius began to fall in love with Earth and, eventually, an Earth woman. He decided not to destroy the planet and live amongst its people, playing the music he loved so much on a banjo.
Except it’s not a gimmick. Bill is General Trius and what the audience take as a comedic sketch a la Flight of the Conchords is actually him telling his real story. But the perfect life he’s crafted begins to unravel when another soldier is sent to Earth: the incompetent and bumbling Kevin (Jay Klaitz). Yet like his General before him, he discovers the beauty and joy of music in a hilarious banjo solo that covers some of the greatest songs ever created. Together, Kevin and Bill begin performing as The Future Folk and find their fan base increasing exponentially. But Hondo has one more trick up its sleeve in the form of a third deadly warrior and a plan that could bring on Earth’s demise unless the duo can find a way to save the day.
Nils d’Aulaire and Jay Klaitz have been performing as an alien bluegrass band around the states for some time with considerable success. If The History of Future Folk doesn’t launch them into greater prominence then frankly this isn’t a world I want to live in. Why? Put simply, the film is brilliant. The music is brilliant. The screenplay is brilliant. The concept is undeniably wacky and, yes, brilliant. What its brilliance comes down to is the gifts of d’Aulaire and Klaitz. The two performers have what we normies like to call ‘a shitload of talent’. With d’Aulaire’s dry delivery and Klaitz’ over-the-top enthusiasm, they compliment each other perfectly. Their skill on a plethora of musical instruments – namely the banjo – and their vocal abilities are hypnotic. The comparisons between Jack Black and Klaitz are inevitable. Both are gifted comedians and part of an epic musical duo. If Klaitz’ chemistry can translate in to the kind success Black has had that would be just karmic payback.
The budget is smaller than Amanda Bynes career options, which can be a difficult thing to overcome for a high concept outing like The History of Future Folk. Co-directors Jeremy Kipp Walker (Half Nelson, Cold Souls) and John Mitchell are not only able to make that part of its quirk, they’re able to make you forget it almost entirely as you get caught up in the lives of the odd characters and the downright catchy musical numbers. These aliens make you connect and engage with their plight in a way that will see you tear up multiple times. It delivers what can aptly be described as major feels.
The History of Future Folk is an indie, sci-fi, musical, romantic comedy that should make your eye twitch with genre overload. Instead it manages to be an infectiously sweet and hilariously original film that gets better with every viewing. If you don’t start using ‘Hondo’ as a casual greeting to your friends after seeing it, you have no soul.
Maria Lewis - follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz