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The History of Future Folk

2013 | 86 min | Not rated | 1.85:1

The History of Future Folk


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Theatrical release date

 31 May, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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The History of Future Folk Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 6, 2013

“The History of Future Folk” is a perfectly pleasant picture. It’s not remarkable work, but a surprisingly gentle entry into the comedic musical duo sweepstakes once populated by the likes of Tenacious D and Flight of the Conchords, though the paring of Nils d’Aulaire and Jay Klaitz doesn’t aspire to any sort of comedic anarchy. Instead, directors John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker play it comfortable with this oddball sci-fi musical, trusting in their own scripted reality to a degree that such passion rubs off on the audience, disarmed by the feature’s generous spirit and set-list of toe-tapping tunes.

In New York City, Bill (Nils d’Aulaire) has raised a playful daughter in Wren (Onata Aprile), while married to loving wife Holly (Julie Ann Emery), working a day job as a groundskeeper at an aerospace museum. Bill is also General Trius, a respected leader on the planet Hondo (residents exclaim “Hondo!” as their greeting) who long ago arrived on Earth to release a flesh-eating virus, thus clearing the way for the citizens of Hondo to start again on a fresh planet, as their home was in the path of a killer comet. Once on Earth, Trius discovered the miracle of music, spending the next 11 years moonlighting as a nightclub musician, laboring to please owner Larry (Dee Snider). Tasked with completing Trius’s mission, Hondoian warrior Kevin (Jay Klaitz) attempts to capture his superior, only to encounter the sweet sounds of folk rock, soon teaming with Bill to become the red-suited group, Future Folk. When his cover is blown by Kevin’s arrival, Bill is forced to leave his life behind, working out a way to win over Hondo with music before a vicious alien bounty hunter emerges to trigger the virus and destroy humanity.

What’s so endearing about “The History of Future Folk” is how it never breaks character. It’s a story of an aborted alien invasion, complete with monsters, lasers, and cumbersome plastic Hondoian armor, yet Mitchell and Walker never wink at the camera or encourage the audience to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Instead, the directors play the premise straightforwardly, trusting viewers will be adventuresome enough to go along for the ride, watching Bill and Kevin attain performance success in Larry’s club (with their most ardent fans dressed up in homemade outfits) as the fate of the world ticks down to doomsday, finding the Hondo elite scrambling to transmit the sweet sounds of Earth into space before it’s too late.

There’s a real sense of character in the movie, with generous performances all around contributing to the sci-fi illusion. Of course, “The History of Future Folk” isn’t strictly about survival, there’s love here too, with Bill trying to entice Holly back into his arms after his elaborate network of lies is revealed to his understandably shocked wife, while Kevin falls head over heels for police officer Carmen (April L. Hernandez), taken with her beauty and immune to her sprays of mace (a delicious treat to Hondoians). The midsection of the film is devoted to the art of woo, watching Kevin use his stun ray to subdue Carmen long enough to beautifully serenade her, also taking in a tango class with the baffled woman, determined to convince his love that a portly, talented alien is the cure to her dating woes. There’s glee spread around the picture that’s terribly fun to watch, especially when the space invaders receive their first taste of Earthly music, triggering a surge of feeling that’s uncontainable, convincing Bill to cancel his genocidal orders after time spent dancing along with a Costco radio near his crash site.

“The History of Future Folk” doesn’t hit any memorably comedic notes, content to deliver more smiles than belly laughs. The Future Folk songs have shape and topics to explore (including space worms), but aren’t especially hilarious, which deflates the feature some. Instead of peaks and valleys, the filmmakers remain consistent with entertainment offerings, leading to an extended climax where the Hondo warriors set out to save their surrogate home using Bill’s museum connections. There are limitations to this low-budget effort, but there’s also tremendous conviction and cinematic skill, creating a far-off world with nothing but red plastic and enthusiasm, which is enough to get “The History of Future Folk” where it wants to go.

Starring: Nils d'Aulaire, Jay Klaitz, Julie Ann Emery
Directors: John Mitchell, Jeremy Kipp Walker

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