Last time, I promised that my next post would be an exploration of a Justice League story by Patton Oswalt, but shockingly, I’ve actually had work to do at work this week, so that will have to wait a little bit.
In the meantime, I want to tell you about the movie I saw on Netflix last night, The Man From Earth.
This film can basically be described as a weird, super-fucking-serious adaptation of Mel Brooks’ old 2000 Year Old Man routine, except in this case, the man is actually 40,000 years old. Word of warning: I’m not going to give away any big spoilers here, but if you want to watch this movie completely fresh (and you can, on Netflix, right now), then go do so before you read this.
John Oldman (get it???) is retiring from his job as a college professor and moving away, and has invited all his colleagues to his house for a farewell party, complete with plastic cups of Johnnie Walker Green and movers pulling furniture right out from under his guests’ asses.
His co-workers are all wondering why, after 10 years of teaching at the university, John suddenly is breaking the fuck out of there. And he explains it to them. Oh holy god does he explain it to them.
You see, John is actually a 40,000-year-old near-immortal Cro-Magnon man, who has somehow mysteriously survived throughout all of recorded history. He sailed with Columbus. He studied under the Buddha. You get the idea. Every ten years or so, when people start to notice he doesn’t age, he packs up shop and starts a new life elsewhere. The movie does not contain any flashbacks, and the whole thing takes place in this guy’s living room, as his friends ask him questions to try to prove or disprove his claim. So the premise is a catalyst to a lot of discussion on science, history, religion, memory, human nature, blablabla.
I will pause here to say that I am honestly not sure how I feel about this movie. I know I enjoyed the hell out of it, but I can’t really pinpoint why. I think it has a genuinely interesting premise, and the fact that it is a movie about people sitting around discussing grand ideas is really intriguing to me, as was playing the guessing game (along with the characters) of whether this guy is full of shit, insane, or actually a caveman. But a TON of my enjoyment of the movie was ironic enjoyment of intensely melodramatic acting, hilariously shitty pacing, and eye-rollingly trite dialogue disguising itself as thought-provoking. So when it comes to my reasoning for recommending this film, I feel kinda like this dude:
Because it’s more fun, I will focus on the hilariously dopey parts of the movie. Like I said, there’s a lot of melodrama here. A lot of characters’ belief systems are SHAKEN TO THEIR VERY CORES, and I suppose that’s to be expected, because a realistic depiction of this scenario would be everyone being like, “You’re a caveman… ooookay… I’m going home.” The whole story depends on people struggling with whether or not they believe this guy’s tall tale, but man do they fucking struggle! Tony Todd, especially. Yes, Candyman himself is at this party, and he can’t fucking believe this shit! Tony Todd alternates freely between being in wide-eyed awe, being furiously incredulous, and openly weeping at the caveman’s story. If I had a dollar for every time he uttered, “This is fascinating, absolutely fascinating” in this movie, I could probably buy the entire Candyman DVD library. In other words, I’d have $8.
Another hilarious high point is the old woman. A devout Christian and professor of religious studies, her line of questioning obviously leans towards the spiritual aspects of a 40,000 year old caveman. When John claims to have actually been the motherfucking Biblical Jesus Christ, everything she believes in is shattered worse than the tablet that keeps the Spider-Man universes seperated. Her reaction to this is hilarious. First claiming that she’s “too sad to cry,” then bursting into tears, then repeatedly asking “You’re not really Jesus, right? Right? Right?”
The recurring motif throughout all of this is the idea that John Oldman’s claims are neither provable nor unprovable. Can anyone in this group of learned educators really say he’s not an ageless caveman??? This is supposed to be a thing that makes us go hmmmm, but it’s just so retarded, y’know? It’s just so retarded.
I won’t tell you the ending of the movie, but I will say that it contains a small twist that might be legitimately interesting, if it wasn’t presented in the middle of one of the most hilariously hammy acting performances I’ve ever seen. I’d tell you more, but you should just go watch the movie. Whether you end up liking it, hating it, or hateliking it, it’s worth your time, and it’s right there on Netflix.
Check it out and let me know what you think of it! Maybe it’ll help me figure out what I think of it. I will leave you with this image, which pretty well sums up this whole insane movie: