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TJFF Review: ‘Future ‘38’ is a Screwball Send-Up of Classic Sci-Fi

May 12, 2018Sherry Li

Future '38 is an undeniably quirky and fun screwball film that revolves around a man from 1938 named Essex (Nick Westrate), who is sent to 2018 — or at least, what they believed 2018 would look like 80 years ago. There he meets Banky (Betty Gilpin), who tags along with Essex as he tries to fulfill his mission for the US government and bring back an isotope from the future before his time runs out.

Right off the bat, director and writer Jamie Greenberg establishes a silly tone, with Neil deGrasse Tyson introducing the film, which itself feels like an old movie, complete with a retro aspect ratio and effects that make the image look like it's being screened from a manual projector. It also uses a ton of color, in the form of funky clothing that brightens up the screen when the picture changes to technicolor from black and white. And there's also a lot of outdated language mixed in with words that today's audience will be familiar with, however, usually with a double meaning or with a completely different definition.

Though it certainly won't be for everyone, as the concept might get old quickly, the offbeat results will definitely satisfy those looking for something a bit odd, especially lovers of classic cinema.

Future '38 screens Saturday, May 12th at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 15 min.

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