#NBFF20: ‘The Tomorrow Man’
Celebrating its 20th year, the Newport Beach Film Festival highlights films from every corner of the world in a week-long showcase. We’re highlighting some of the festival’s most noteworthy features, documentaries, and more.
The feature debut of director Noble Jones, The Tomorrow Man is a December-December romance starring John Lithgow and Blythe Danner as two eccentric seniors with strange secrets. Witty and charming, it’s a light comedy and a pleasant, easygoing experience.
Lithgow plays Ed Hemsler, a retired systems analyst and terminally online paranoiac. Ed’s the ur-dad: he pines for a return of the good old days, he’s never wrong (or so he thinks), and pays exclusively with checks. When he’s not giving “sage” advice to Internet strangers or arguing with his son about the impending apocalypse, he’s at the grocery store buying supplies for his secret doomsday shelter. It’s there that he spies Ronnie Meisner (Danner), whom he believes is a fellow “prepper.” After concocting a meet-cute, they have a delightfully awkward first date, and a romance blooms.
Jones’ script and loose style give Lithgow and Danner plenty to play with. Both are in fine form here, bringing to life the idiosyncrasies and quirks that make their relationship so fun to watch. However, things aren’t always sunny, and the lows are just as engaging as the highs. Things take a turn for the dramatic after a heated Thanksgiving dinner at Ed’s son’s house, and Ronnie’s secret might give a neat freak a panic attack.
Thankfully, The Tomorrow Man avoids the pratfalls of a typical elderly romantic comedy by navigating its themes with wry wit, offbeat charisma, and real pathos. While it’s not the most dynamic film—don’t expect action beyond Ed’s reckless driving—its relaxed pace works with the story, not against it. It can be a little too precious from time to time, but the results are predictably adorable.
The Tomorrow Man released May 17th. You should take your mom.