‘Jules’ Review: Close Encounters of the Lonely Kind

5/5 - (10 votes)

In the world of alien movies, there are usually two common themes: horror or tenderness. Marc Turtletaub’s film, “Jules,” falls into the latter category. The film revolves around a vegetarian alien who crash-lands in a small town in Pennsylvania and finds himself bonding with a group of senior citizens.

Unlike the typical alien film with child protagonists, “Jules” brings together a trio of bewildered elderly individuals who relate to the alien’s outsider status. They understand the ramifications that could arise if news of his arrival on Earth spreads. One of these seniors is Milton, played by Ben Kingsley, a man struggling with fading memories and a strained relationship with his daughter. When Milton’s pleas for help with the small, gray alien named Jules are dismissed by the townspeople, he invites Jules into his home, forming an unlikely friendship with the nonverbal extraterrestrial. Soon enough, Milton’s neighbors, Sandy and Joyce, portrayed by Harriet Sansom Harris and Jane Curtin respectively, discover the visitor. Observing the presence of government officials, they join Milton in his quest to keep Jules a secret.

Beneath the film’s humorous and far-fetched premise, “Jules” is a story that explores empathy and the desires of elderly characters to maintain their personal agency. Kingsley’s portrayal of Milton adds dignity to a character that could have easily been reduced to comedic relief. Similarly, Harris and Curtin bring depth to their roles, highlighting the complexities of their characters. For all three of them, Jules serves as a reminder of the significance of companionship in their lives. In their old age, the feeling of isolation has driven them to desperately hold on to what little they have left. In a heartwarming yet ridiculous scene, Joyce, with Jules’s assistance, bids farewell to her aging cat in a touching funeral.

Director Marc Turtletaub opts to minimize the film’s campy elements, focusing instead on the charming suburban setting and a lighthearted, subtle sense of humor. “Jules” is not in the same vein as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” as Turtletaub seems to prefer having the audience cozily settled in their seats with a warm mug of cocoa rather than on the edge of their seats. However, this sweetness is not out of place, as not every alien movie needs to be as intense as “Alien.”

In conclusion, “Jules” offers a unique take on the alien genre by exploring the bonds formed between a group of senior citizens and a vegetarian extraterrestrial. The film’s portrayal of empathy and the desire for companionship among the elderly adds depth to the storyline. Despite its lighter tone, “Jules” manages to capture the audience’s hearts while delivering refreshing moments of humor.

About Emily Maya

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