Tropic Sprockets / Jules

By Ian Brockway

“Jules” is the new film by Marc Turtletaub (Puzzle). It is quirky and lighthearted, a kind of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” for the senior set. Though it is pensive and melancholic around the edges, it has whimsy and kitsch and boasts a terrific cast. [Showtimes and trailer at]

Milton (Ben Kingsley) is a septuagenarian living in Pittsburgh who attends city council meetings. One night he is awakened by a loud crash: an alien spacecraft right by the back door. His daughter (Zoë Winters) suspects dementia.

Milton sees the bluish white alien sleeping in his yard. He discovers that he, she or they likes apples. The extraterrestrial has deep soulful eyes and invariably wears a thoughtful expression.

Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris), a neighbor, sees the alien by chance. Though at first terrified, she bares her soul to the otherworldly being and feels a profound connection. Local citizen Joyce (Jane Curtin) sees the being through the window and pops in for a visit. She is also stupefied, but vows secrecy. They agree to call the alien Jules, though Joyce feels that the alien looks more like a Gary.

Meanwhile the government is on the hunt for the spacecraft.

The energy of the film is in its looseness and charm combined with the mixture of childlike freedom and empathy from the alien being, all without any dialogue spoken.

Jane Curtin appears as a light tribute to her Saturday Night Live days as a Conehead.

Jules himself becomes a kind of mirror allowing Milton and the ladies to reveal and reflect upon their lives.

All performances are solid, making this into a kind of wistful Twilight Zone film blended with “Cocoon” (1985). Along with its fanciful spirit, the film is a meditation on friendships and desire in the face of aging.

Write Ian at [email protected].

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