The History of Future Folk
Charming but slight sci-fi music comedy in the vein of Flight of the Conchords
Cosmic-folk twosome Future Folk started life on the underground New York music scene, playing acoustic guitar-and-banjo tunes with sci-fi lyrics to crowds of bemused punters. The gentle whimsy and a focus on music rather than jokes puts their foot firmly in Flight of the Conchords territory (as opposed to, say, Tenacious D), although in their full space-exploration get-up, there’s more than a hint of DEVO to the duo as well.
This film explores the mythology behind Future Folk: how General Trius (Nils d'Aulaire) ventured from his home planet of Hondo with the intention of colonising Earth, but fell in love with the planet after hearing music for the first time; and how inept foot-soldier The Mighty Kevin (Jay Klaitz) was sent to retrieve him, but fell under the same spell, and ended up joining the general’s band. There are a few sub-plots thrown in – Trius has adopted the name Bill and raised a family on Earth; Kevin falls in love with a police officer – but overall, the material is pretty slight, and the band’s ultra-high concept roots in musical cabaret can’t help showing through.
The film is saved by the performances of all involved: d'Aulaire has a deadpan charm reminiscent of Ron Livingston in Office Space, while Klaitz has the bumbling wit (and impressive vocal pipes) of ex-Barenaked Lady Steven Page. The supporting cast too acquit themselves admirably, with Bill’s long-suffering wife Holly (Julie Ann Emery) responding realistically to the outlandish events that occur, and the couple’s child Wren (Onata Aprile) never crossing the line from adorable to irritating. Directors John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker never seem to do much more than point and shoot, but in such a character-led film (made with obvious care and affection), that’s a strength rather than a weakness.
The History of Future Folk is showing at GFT, Glasgow, Fri 22 & Sat 23 Feb, as part of the Glasgow Film Festival.