Jules Don’t Phone Home…Our Review of ‘Jules’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 18, 2023
Jules Don’t Phone Home…Our Review of ‘Jules’

Movies that have an identity crisis can sometimes be beneficial to the story telling, detrimental or indifferent. A movie cannot find its footing and the type of movie it wants to tell, then it becomes a hodgepodge of genre blending where if not one single genre shines. It then fails to make a deeper impact and lasting impression with its audience. This is not to say that the movie doesn’t have a top notch cast, nor that they’re bad in the movie.

But they’re all sort of just existing in the space of the film and cannot elevate it to be something more. These are the issues with Marc Turtletaub’s latest, Jules. The movie tries to blend drama and comedy with a dash of science fiction. It does all of this without honing in on any genre or specifics. Those specifics need to be there to make a good drama or a comedy.

The movie focuses on Milton (Ben Kingsley) as we see he is living on his own. His health is entirely great, and he’s sort of just managing to get by but managing well enough. His daughter, Denise (Zoe Winters), is rather worried about him and the assumption that consistently lingers throughout the film is that he cannot and should not be living on his own anymore. However, Denise walks the line about having that conversation as she doesn’t want to hurt her father. The only two other people Milton really has any interactions with are Joyce (Jane Curtin) and Sandy (Harriet Harris). These three often run into each other at city council meetings. Everything changes for Milton though when a UFO crashes into his backyard that only he sees crash. And an alien visitor starts to make an appearance in his life.

While the movie wants to have the feel and heart of Spielberg’s ET, it doesn’t meet those expectations. However, throughout my viewing, there is a breadcrumb trail you can’t help but follow. This movie clearly feels inspired and even reminiscent of ET. Sadly, it fails to make that lifelong impression of the other friendly extra-terrestrial. There are tidbits and story elements that certainly try to emulate the feelings of the classic. That is as far as it goes. And the cast is certainly missing that whimsical element to it. This is because they’re all golden aged adults and not whimsical children. Kingsley, Harris and Curtin all try to bring something memorable to their performances. But the script penned by Gavin Steckler, in his first time writing a feature, don’t give enough to work with to some well-seasoned veterans of the craft.

Jules tells a story of an older gentleman whose daughter is worried about him, discovering that we’re not alone in this world. With the worries and his less than careful approach to discussing the spaceship and its visitor things start to escalate. Nevertheless, some friends come to check in on him, realizing the worst is not what they feared and they try to come together to help one another out even with one of the most mind boggling third act ‘twists’ I’ve seen. Jules borrows a lot to try and imitate the classics that inspired it, but ultimately misses that mark entirely.

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My earliest movie memory, outside of my home theatre in my basement, was going to the local Video 99 and wanting to rent ET only to be told by the shop owner it was playing down the street in theatres. My love for cinema has been alive for as long as I can honestly remember. I would frequent the cinema minutes down from my house daily. It was a second home. Movies are an escape from the everyday world, a window into the soul, a distant friend. If I’m not watching a movie, I’m probably watching a tv show, if I’m doing neither I’m asleep. Feel free to interact me at @Dubsreviews
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