The Tomorrow Man
When a movie starts with John Lithgow at a grocery story looking bewildered and overly friendly with a cashier, I can’t help but think of Terms of Endearment, where his meet-cute with Debra Winger happens when she doesn’t have enough money for her groceries. In this, Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner) has enough money for her groceries. He’s just intrigued, and…who wouldn’t be. Danner still looks beautiful. It takes a while for the movie to start getting there, but soon enough, they’re going out for pie at a local greasy spoon. And who wouldn’t fall for a woman that sings along to Muskrat Love (his face when she turns it up on the radio, is priceless). Nobody can give awkward looks like Lithgow can. But his character, Ed Hemsler, is a prepper. We hear phone conversations with his son, who has grown tired of these conversations.
The two have decent chemistry together, and these are a pair of warm performances. It’s just a shame that writer/director and even cinematograph, Noble Lincoln Jones (who went from ESPN to penning his first script), doesn’t give us a better story. It’s also filled with corny dialogue, and sometimes, it’s just not all that interesting. There’s something about watching eccentric old people with annoying quirks that…doesn’t make for the most interesting story.
I wasn’t a fan of The Old Man & the Gun (they also enjoyed pie at a diner), but at least that was a true story about an elderly bank robber. It had that going for it. It’s not like we’re watching this, waiting for the apocalypse.
The movie has a few laughs, since Ronnie’s co-worker Tina (Eve Harlow), comments on Ronnie walking in after a night with Ed, mentioning the “walk of shame.” She also has a funny line about turkey, when it comes to them having Thanksgiving at his son’s (Derek Cecil) house.
The Thanksgiving has one great conversation, and one awful one. When father and son argue over sports, it’s intriguing. When the wife and girlfriend in the kitchen talk about travel and going to Spain, it’s rather painful. Listening to the daughter talk about The Twilight Zone made me chuckle, considering John Lithgow was in the ‘80s film version of Twilight Zone.
Once they start fighting at the dinner table though, it was really sharp writing. It was also great hearing Ronnie lecture Ed on always saving things for “tomorrow” when she is “here today.”
It was a lovely scene in a hospital room.
My stepdad would be thrilled to see there’s a character that multiple times, praises Ford vehicles. My wacky brother will be thrilled to see there’s a movie that deals with a prepper.
It’s great that Lithgow is still doing interesting work. He was a pleasant surprise a few months ago in Pet Sematary. His character in Beatriz at Dinner a few years ago was solid. I’ve enjoyed his presence on screen ever since I was a teenager, watching him in one of my all time favorite movies (The World According to Garp). It’s just a shame this movie, giving two great older actors leading roles, wasn’t a bit better.
Best yard sale scene since Everything Must Go, though.
2 stars out of 5.