THE TOMORROW MAN – movie review

Bleecker Street
Reviewed for & linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Noble Jones
Screenwriter: Noble Jones
Cast: John Lithgow, Blythe Danner, Derek Cecil, Katie Aselton, Sophie Thatcher, Eve Harlow
Screened at: Digital Arts, NYC, 4/8/19
Opens: May 22, 2019

The Tomorrow Man Movie Poster

Although two first-rate actors receive the focus of Noble Jones’s “The Tomorrow Man,” this drama that could easily have been put on afternoon TV. Though there is enough of a cutesy element guiding the trajectory of an autumn courtship that could find a place on an off-Broadway stage, the entire production is too slight to warrant a worthy full-screen adaption.

Noble Jones in his sophomore full-length movie involves two people with idiosyncrasies that in a way are complementary are both single, one “on the other side of sixty” and the other about the same age, living alone in houses that could be placed somewhere in the mid-west—though the director, who is behind the lenses, films all in Rochester, New York. Ed (John Lithgow), a retired systems analyst, is a survivalist who expects the end of the world in the near future and so has prepared himself with a few years’ supply of food and water in a garage whose location is unknown even by the man’s middle-aged son. Ronnie (Blythe Danner) works at a local gift shop, a hoarder whose small house is crammed with stuff she will never use. They get together after Ed spots her on his line at a supermarket. Ed, who is aggressive in going after what he wants, follows Ronnie to her car, exchanging names (though she is nonplussed), the two seen heading out for coffee. This would be a good time to get to know each another, but Ed talks too much about himself and would seem to set himself up for rejection. Not so.

She has only a fellow employee, Tina (Eve Harlow), to confide in, a younger woman who advises Ronnie to go for it. For his part, Ed has a one-sided phone conversation—actually a phone lecture—with his son Brian (Derek Cecil), married to Janet (Katie Aselton) with a teen daughter Jeanine (Sophie Thatcher). The cast of characters becomes relevant later when Ronnie attends a Thanksgiving dinner with Ed’s people.

Their relationship is pleasant enough, giving us more a look at what elderly people might talk about when dating. The only suspense might be to wonder when the two decide to “get it on,” but otherwise we must content ourselves with watching performances of two experienced actors whose material they could have walked through with blindfolds. John Lithgow has a huge résumé going back to 1972. Blythe Danner, known these days also for commercials, is at least equally impressive and can be easily identified with your eyes closed by her husky voice.

The only break with conventions are a) that we don’t see many movies about people romancing beyond the age of fifty, and b) the final minute opens up a scene that some of us might have predicted but comes as a welcome surprise.

91 minutes. © 2019 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – C
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – C+