Fantastic Planet: In space, no-one can hear you laugh...

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I’m pissed off with imdb.com. They’ve given Space Milkshake – one of the two solidly entertaining and frequently hilarious comedies to bookend the Fantastic Planet/A Night Of Horror film festivals – the thumbs down.

It’s rated a measly 4.6. What gives? The only bad news about Canada’s Space Milkshake is that you’ve missed it. An opening night film at the twin genre festivals, it’s a gloriously funny satire of Hollywood space dramas – the ones where the world’s about to end and everyone’s talking in meaningless jargon.

Set on a sanitation station in space, its heroes are high-tech garbage collectors – and ones with fine acting pedigrees. The faultless and funny cast includes Billy Boyd (Lord Of The Rings), Kristen Kreuk (Smallville) and Amanda Tapping (Stargate), while the legendary George Takei (Hikaru Sulu from the original Star Trek) lends his voice to a key character and provides much of the humour.

The first feature from writer/director Armen Evrensel, the story itself is crazy – it has something to do with a rubber duck and a device known as the ‘time cube’ and, of course, the world is about to end (or maybe it already has…). Silly but funny, in between the big bang laughs there’s just pure sit-back-and-relax entertainment. Feel god sci-fi.

The History of Future Folk – the festivals’ very last film – could also be described as feel-good sci-fi. But instead of being a straight satire, it unfolds into a rom-com, but an inventive one that doesn’t get caught in that genre’s traps. Like Space Milkshake, it’s out-of-this-world funny…

It’s about two humanoid aliens from Hondo – a world under threat from an asteroid – who come to Earth to wipe out humanity and set themselves up in new planetary digs. Bill (who’s also known as General Trius) gets here first. His true identity kept secret from his human wife and their child, he finds something here that doesn’t exist on Hondo. Something that changes his life. Something that softens his opinion of humanity. Something that he finds ecstatic. That something is music.

The role is played superbly by real life banjo player Nils d\'Aulaire. It’s his first acting gig and he plays it straight. He’s the man who fell to Earth, depressed, conflicted and his only solace is his banjo, which he plays in a little New York club. The solo sessions soon become a double-act, with the arrival of the equally improbably named Hondonian, Kevin (guitar-playing actor Jay Klaitz, who’s also d\'Aulaire’s off-screen musical partner). Klaitz doesn’t play it as straight as d\'Aulaire, creating a good comic balance – the scene where d\'Aulaire‘s Bill plays Klaitz’s Kevin music for the first time is completely hysterical, and alone is worth the price of admission. But there’s romance and a race to save the world here too, and the acoustic, often rootsy music isn’t half-bad either.

You may have missed Space Milkshake, but there’s no bad news regarding The History of Future Folk – Bill and Kevin crash land into the Dendy Newton on Sunday April 21 at 7pm.

For more details and screening times, go to:
www.anightofhorror.com
www.fantasticplanetfilmfestival.com

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