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Review: The Tomorrow Man

June 8, 2019

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) is a doomsday prepper in small town America who stockpiles supplies for an apocalypse that he believes is coming. When he spots Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner) in the grocery store buying the same brand of canned tuna, he mistakes her for a fellow survivalist and starts to pursue her.

A relationship starts to form between the two seniors, but they both have their own unique challenges, with Ed spending his days worrying about the future – hence the film’s title The Tomorrow Man – and her remaining stuck in the past, working at an antique shop and collecting knick knacks.

The feature debut of filmmaker Noble Jones, who wrote and directed the film and also served as the cinematographer, The Tomorrow Man falls into that very specific subgenre of romantic dramedies that chart the relationship between two quirky and slightly eccentric people. Lithgow and Danner both deliver likeable performances, but the trouble is that the film ends up feeling derivative of other better works.

This is not even to mention the fact that the story essentially treats mental illness as a character quirk. Lithgow recently described it in an interview as Silver Linings Playbook “if they were both old folks,” which gives you a sense of what tone they were going for, but that comparison is overly lofty and quite a bit of an exaggeration in terms of quality. The senior romance angle was also done better in films like The Meddler and the Blyther Danner-starring I’ll See You in My Dreams.

The film also tries too hard to be quirky and cute at times, including the entirely questionable use of the Captain & Tennille song “Muskrat Love” as a musical motif that brings our two characters together. But there are still a few sweet moments peppered throughout, and the final scene is intriguing in a way that I wish the rest of the film had done a better job of building towards. If you are looking for a certain type of midlevel Sundance dramedy, The Tomorrow Man is an alright option, but it somewhat frustratingly never really rises above this humdrum, mediocre level.

The Tomorrow Man is now playing in limited release at Cineplex Cinemas Varsity in Toronto.

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