By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
The tagline for the film reads, “Probably the only alien-folk-duo sci fi-action-romance-comedy movie ever made which probably makes it the best alien-folk-duo sci fi-action-romance-comedy ever made.”* Aside from a sequel which could expand on this “universe”, I cannot seriously see any film taking this title away from this hilarious, sweet and charming indie film which captured the hearts of audiences at the 2012 Fantastic Fest. I knew when my twitter feed exploded with joyous praise for this film during the festival, along with the hashtag #Hondo, that there is something really special about this movie. As I hadn’t attended the festival last year, I would have to wait months before I could watch, enjoy, laugh, smile, and sing along with the other worldly duo known as Future Folk. Now available on Video on Demand and in a few select theaters (not in Austin), The History of Future Folk is a must see for earthlings of various tastes.
Serving as an origin story for the musical duo Future Folk, and an obviously fictional one at that, the movie depicts the arrival of alien Hondonian General Trius (Nils d’Aulaire) on earth and how music changed his life. With a comet destined to destroy the planet Hondo, General Trius is sent to earth to release a virus to destroy all human life so that the Hondonian people can take over. Upon his arrival, the General discovers the joy of music and has a sudden change of heart. He abandons his mission, becomes a bluesgrass artist and eventually marries and starts a family. Several years pass, but Hondo responds to Trius’ betrayal and mission failure by sending an assassin named Kevin (Jay Klaitz). Kevin also falls in love with music and joins Trius, now known as Bill, to form the duo Future Folk.
Written by John Mitchell and directed by Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker, the movie often plays out like a tonally different, alternate universe version of Tenacious D, but with less buffoonish characters. The plot is basic science fiction and doesn’t offer audiences anything mind blowing or different, but that obviously is not the intention of the filmmakers. They take a goofy and silly premise and run with it so straight-faced that it works so well. The characters, particularly Kevin, have such lovable qualities that only the hardest of hearts or the most cynical will scoff. One doesn’t have to be a fan of science fiction (or bluegrass/folk) to enjoy the movie, but it does add to the enjoyment. As I watched the film, I couldn’t help, but think of fun sci fi B-movies of the fifties and sixties. It is evident that Mitchell, Walker, d’Aulaire and Klaitz all have much love for these classic, low budget films.
It is also evident that Nils d’Aulaire and Jay Klaitz are talented musicians and performers. When this duo takes the stage, it is an absolute pleasure to hear them jam, sing, and play their instruments. Nils’ nimble fingers can rock the hell out of a banjo and Jay Klaitz’s able strumming keeps the rhythm going. When these two singers harmonize, it is pure musical joy. I would love to get the soundtrack of the movie along with any other recordings they may have available. One thing is for certain, if they ever return to Austin for a concert, I will definitely attend. In addition to their musical talents, the duo proves to be talented at acting. They both have excellent comic timing and charismatic qualities which allow them to pull off their characters beautifully.
At this point it should go without saying that I highly recommend this endearing and winsome sci-fi-comedy-musical-etc. Seek it out on Video On Demand or if for some reason it gets a theatrical release in your town, go pay to see it. The movie is so much fun. I guarantee that anyone who sees this film will finish it with a huge smile on their face. If not, then what can I say? That person needs help. Hondo!
*Tagline provided by Variance Films.