I saw a film starring John Lithgow and Blythe Danner. Honestly, I should just end the review there. You know it’s going to be good…like really good. If you have a chance to see Noble Jones’ The Tomorrow Man, by all means, do it. 8 out of 10 stars.
So, now I’m contractually obligated to give a few more details. John Lithgow plays Ed Hemsler, a man who spends most of his time in front of a computer in various doomsday chat rooms. The film opens with Ed on the phone with his son, Brian (Derek Cecil), emphatically warning him to have it get-away pack ready for the big SHTF (Shit-Hit-The-Fan) event. Ed is a hard-core doomsday prepper. He’s rigged the back of his house and turned it into a bunker loaded with more non-perishable food than you can imagine, along with an elaborate generator and exhaust system.
“…a hard-core doomsday prepper. He’s rigged the back of his house and turned it into a bunker…”
When not theorizing on various conspiracy theories, Ed either stays home or heads to the local market for supplies. At the market, he spots Ronnie (Blythe Danner) and immediately takes a fancy to her. He proceeds to semi-stalk her and makes his move by parking his truck too close alongside her car door. He then follows Ronnie to the town gift shop, where she works. Soon persistence pays off and she agrees to dinner and a date.
Eyes locked and sparks fly, the two are officially in love. On the way home, Ronnie tells Ed that she doesn’t want him to go to her place for a very particular, meaningful reason. Instead, they fall asleep on Ed’s couch watching old war movies (at Ronnie’s request). Both Ed and Ronnie are enamored with one another, but both have a pretty big secret that could stand in the way of love. We know Ed’s and if you want to know Ronnie’s read the film synopsis. Otherwise, it might be fun not to spoil it.
The joy of The Tomorrow Man is watching two seasoned actors, acting like giddy teens in older bodies. Their love is sweet and endearing. And both have complicated families to deal with. There’s a fantastic scene where Ed is invited to Thanksgiving dinner by Brian for the first time in a long time. The reason is they almost always get into heated arguments about the end of the world that breaks down into a lot of yelling and…you know, parents and kids. For once, Ed is interested in going and asks if he can bring his girlfriend Ronnie, and she witnesses in short order the meltdown of his family.
“…a film starring John Lithgow and Blythe Danner. Honestly, I should just end the review there…”
Noble Jones’ script is not only about love but about the people we become when we get older. We grow old alone, we become set in our ways. We put up defenses and become virtually impossible to tear down when we allow ourselves to love someone else late in the game.
The Tomorrow Man is not one of these high-dramas with something profound to say about human natures. It’s more a chance to watch two veteran actors in John Lithgow and Blythe Danner do what they spent their entire lives doing, and that’s act and act real damn good. They find that right balance between being normal and quirky to turn out a grounded performance. And the film’s final moment comes a little out of nowhere but is the perfect button to a sweet story.
The Tomorrow Man (2019) Written and directed by Noble Jones. Starring John Lithgow, Blythe Danner, Derek Cecil, Sophie Thacher.
8 out of 10 stars