There have been lots of movies about humanity’s contact with extraterrestrial life. Still, most of these films have either very young protagonists or those who fall under the demographic range of adult to middle-aged. Now, before anyone can yell “Cocoon,” you should know I am well aware of this movie and its sequel. I am trying to point out that there are not many movies where alien lifeforms have contact with older people. Jules is one of those rare features that realizes this contact between an otherworldly being and a few people within the retirement demographic. The result is a lovely movie that gives a spark of life to an otherwise downhearted trio of seniors trying to make sense of their experiences during the twilight of their lives.
Ben Kingsley stars as Milton, an elderly retiree struggling with the early stages of dementia, while his loving daughter Denise (Zoe Winters) does her best to care for him. Viewed within his community as a senile curmudgeon, Milton spends his days mostly complaining about his community’s shortcomings and repeatedly airs his grievances during the city council meetings. Well, his life gets rattled remarkably when a space alien crash lands in his backyard. Although shocked and annoyed by this recent development, Milton’s good heart drives him to bring the humanoid creature into his home to allow him to recover and repair his ship. However, as Milton doesn’t have much of a filter, he expresses his frustrations publicly that an extraterrestrial has crashed on his property and destroyed his beloved Azailia garden.
Written by Gavin Steckler and directed by Marc Turtletaub, Jules is such a lovable and big-hearted movie that it is relatively easy to ignore its shortcomings. And while there is nothing glaringly wrong with the film, the movie doesn’t do anything remarkably different when depicting contact with an alien lifeform. For the movie’s benefit, Steckler and Turtletaub focus the story on the human characters and their reactions to this incredible experience.
That’s what makes Jules so compelling and relatable. Anyone who has first-hand experience with an elderly relative and all of the troubles and challenges they face will connect with this story. The filmmakers also handle the severe angles well but do a great job mixing in the humorous side of these scenarios.
And what sells this movie’s premise and situation so well is the cast. Ben Kingsley is excellent as Milton, a grumpy and somewhat sad senior who has very little going on in his life except for dealing with his problems of dementia and memory loss. The movie also features excellent performances by Jane Curtin and Harriet Sansom Harris, portraying Milton’s friends Joyce and Sandy. These ladies help Milton and the alien they dub Jules. Quon, who is completely covered in makeup and costume as the alien, gives a very restrained performance but knows how to make an impact with very subtle expressions, body language, and no dialog whatsoever.
While this movie does not beg people to rush to the cinema, it is such a winning and lovable film that deserves an audience regardless of how it is viewed. This film has so much heart and compassion that it is one I must highly recommend.