Quick Hit: A quaint little film that starts slowly but builds into its own brand of humor.
When reading the description for Future '38, you come away interested, but not necessarily impressed. Billed as a lost film from 1938, and in fact, introduced as such by Neil DeGrass Tyson, the idea is one of the first time travel films, with Technicolor, that has been lost for decades before being resurrected now for our viewing pleasure. With the initial start of the film, I wasn’t sure what I was watching. Quickly though, I realized that this was a film that was meant to be full of nearly Airplane! like humor… and I began to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.
That’s my mine take away from this film – it’s extremely funny, at least to those that appreciate word play. Director/Writer Jamie Greenberg has crafted a film that is heavy on the humor, while still maintaining a breath every once in a while. As I stated before, it’s a particular brand of humor – similar to that of the famous parody films like The Naked Gun and Airplane! But it’s also a film that is a love letter to a time where a good old fashioned romance between the two main characters was enough to maintain the momentum of a film.
Indeed, when Essex (Nick Westrate) is sent back in time by an American General to get a particular Formica isotope, the whole thing had seemed a bit hokey. A low-budget time machine, stilted dialogue (purposeful, I realized), and a black and white exterior led to a slower start. But the set up was necessary so that the audience can truly appreciate the character of Banky (Betty Gilpin). The entry into the future world is as jarring for the audience as it is for Essex, but once Banky hits the screen, the movie takes off. Sure, they may be a few too many forays into the realm of how the future is different that may have reduced the screen time, but some of these also return as throwaway jokes later.
My favorite thing, outside of the fun characterization that exists within the actor’s realms, is the different twists and turns on our everyday lives here in 2017 vs. the movie’s 2018. A text message is literally a man running back and forth with a pad of paper. McDonalds is a upscale Irish restaurant. And a computer/the internet is something that is right out of old school science fiction, a computer that essentially can only print the answers to questions that are asked.
Our duo, Essex and Banky, take a bit to build their chemistry, but it does grow fairly organically throughout the film. By the end, the actors are really selling it. Betty Gilpin does fantastic in some of the most emotional scenes, really working the moments and building the sexual and romantic tension. I especially enjoyed the scenes with them and the safe, because I thought they were terribly romantic. And it may be one of the best uses of the word “Jeepers” in this side of film.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"