It’s charming. It’s more than a little strange.
It’s about people “of a certain age. Like me.
And “Jules” stays with me as one of my favorites of 2023.
Marc Turtletaub’s dramedy stars Sir Ben Kingsley as Milton, a widowed man facing the first stages of dementia.
Milton is a regular at city hall meetings, where he makes a sly nod to “E.T.” He lives in a fairly solitary routine and stays in contact with his daughter (Zoë Winters, “Succession”) who worries about him.
Milton is surprised when a space craft crashes into his yard. After all, it has ruined his azaleas, and this bothers him.
Milton discovers that humankind is no longer alone … and neither is he. An injured, small alien has emerged from the craft.
Milton tries to call the police, but the dispatcher seems to think he’s a dotty old man. Soon, Milton feeds the alien (the marvelous Jade Quon) apples … and the creature begins to recover, tinkering with the craft occasionally and handing Milton drawings at times.
Milton introduces “Jules” the alien to Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris, “Licorice Pizza”) and Joyce (Jane Curtin,) both of whom are taken with Jules.
They form an oddball community that can’t last, because Jules is sought after, as you might imagine, by government agents.
How will Jules get back home – if the alien can return at all? And how long can Milton keep his prying daughter from seeing what’s going on in his house?
In most movies like this, it’s a bunch of adolescents or teens who are connected to some miraculous discovery that must be protected. Here, it’s older people (think “Cocoon,”) and it’s a delight to watch them interact not only with each other, but also the alien, who appears to patiently listen as they talk about their lives, past and present.
This movie isn’t quite perfect, but it resonates with me, with its focus on the aging and nods to other alien-based entertainment (including a reference to “Alf” you might not see coming.)
Younger people will like it too. Embrace the weirdness, meet “Jules,” and let this oddball movie charm you.
3 ½ stars
Rated: PG-13 for coarse language, violence, and adult themes.
Running time: One hour and 30 minutes.
Watch the trailer here.