While it seems like it should be an absurd little indie comedy, it’s really just a fun fantasy with heart.
The History of Future Folk
It’s not often I encounter new film genres. There’s nothing new under the sun, right? But a comedic sci-fi folk music family film is definitely a first, and that’s precisely what The History of Future Folk is. Light in its approach, this film is low budget and walks a pretty straight path, so while it seems like it should be an absurd little indie comedy, it’s really just a fun fantasy with heart.
Providing the backstory for real-life musical duo, Future Folk, the film begins with Bill (Nils d’Aulaire) telling his daughter the seemingly fabricated tale of Hondo, a planet doomed by an incoming comet. The people of Hondo send their fearless leader, General Trius out into the universe to find them a new home. Armed with the means to wipe out humanity, Trius lands on Earth. He wanders into a bulk sales store where right before he is to annihilate the people of Earth to claim it for the Hondonians, he is overcome by a new sensation. Playing throughout the store is something he’s never experienced: music. Captivated by this discovery, Trius lets the people of Earth live and instead forms his own musical act, Future Folk.
Turns out, this is no story, and Bill is actuality General Trius. Many years later he has acclimated to being a human, even marrying a human, Holly (Julie Ann Emery), and having a daughter (Onata Aprile, seen more recently in What Maisie Knew). He hasn’t forsaken his native planet, but has lost contact with them.
Then one day another Hondonian, Kevin (Jay Klaitz), shows up to kill Bill and finish the job. Once Bill introduces Kevin to music (playing an AMAZING music-through-the-ages medley on his banjo), he too is overwhelmed by it to the point of abandoning his mission. The one-man folk act becomes a duo, playing frequently at a local bar run by Larry (Dee Snider, oddly enough). They garner a hipster following, but Bill’s lies start to catch up with him with the arrival of Kevin, especially when another bounty-hunter style alien shows up to kill them, and now Bill’s marriage is on shaky ground.
The entire concept sounds like it should be ridiculous to the point of hilarity, and it really isn’t. In fact this film wasn’t nearly as funny as I expected and oddly, didn’t really try to be. Granted, Jay Klaitz plays Kevin as though he’s seen one too many Jack Black films (or Tenacious D concerts) and Nils D’Aulaire has the innocent and pretty face that could easily be the Bret McKenzie type if they were trying to be Flight of the Conchords. But they just aren’t. The entire story is straight as an arrow. Just another bluegrass alien band from a planet in peril. Which somehow just makes it sweet and wholesome and easy to watch.
Admittedly, this film just made me somewhat nostalgic for Flight of the Conchords, as I would have liked a nice dose of ironic humor to go with the fantasy tale. And at times I thought to myself if only I were living in Brooklyn and knew of Future Folk, maybe I’d feel slightly more in on the joke. But at the same time it’s nice to see a film, especially a low budget one, feel comfortable in it’s own skin.