What appears on its surface to be your typical “older people in love” romantic comedy turns out to be much more. Certainly, this is a romantic comedy about senior citizens, but it isn’t the fluffy claptrap one would expect. This is an honest portrayal of the fears inherent to aging, both real and imagined, and the way that people in their twilight years tend to close themselves off from the world. Thankfully — and this is not a spoiler — Jones’ film does not shamelessly use failing health to pull on the audience’s heartstrings, instead drawing drama from its characters emotions and mental states.
John Lithgow is excellent as Ed, a widower whose sole passion is turning his backyard shed into the ultimate doomsday survival warehouse. He’s not sure what this vague apocalypse is that he’s preparing for, but whatever form it takes, he will be ready. You get the sense that this is not an obsession based in logic or even expectation. It’s just something to do for a lonely, aging man. If his hobby has taken a life of its own, so be it.
While grocery shopping one day, he encounters Ronnie (Blythe Danner), a similarly aged, similarly lonely woman. Despite her initial resistance, the two form a fast friendship, which soon turns into a romance. This new relationship brings natural complications of its own, as Ed and Ronnie work to open up their worlds to one another.
Moments of intermittent fantasy give this relatively straightforward tale an air of magical realism that allows for broad interpretations of the film’s show-stopping (and deeply touching) finale.
Overall, The Tomorrow Man is a fantastic showcase for two legendary actors, that will surely warm the heart of those willing to open up to its easygoing humor and digestible drama.
The Tomorrow Man was part of the 2019 PFF Spring Fest, April 12-14, 2019. It is scheduled for nationwide release May 22, 2019.