Ben Kingsley shines in a heartwarming sci-fi comedy about a truly unusual friendship. Jules is the story of a diminutive, non-verbal alien that crashes into the backyard of a widower with dementia. What could have been a frightening experience develops into a rallying of sorts for lost souls looking for companionship. The elderly become invisible in our hectic modern society that embraces youth. Lonely protagonists find belonging and purpose by caring for an extraterrestrial trying to get home. No spoilers but I almost fell out of my chair laughing at its spaceship's source of fuel.

The clean-shaven, bespectacled Milton (Kingsley) attends the weekly city council meeting in Boonton, PA. He composes himself before carefully stating his idea for bettering the community. The town slogan is misleading. It needs to be updated to avoid confusion. Also, a busy street needs a traffic light and crosswalk to prevent potential pedestrian incidents. The council members listen with a weary countenance as they've repeatedly heard Milton's requests before. He sits down to be followed by other retirees with their own strange complaints. The kind Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris) and feisty Joyce (Jane Curtin) eagerly await their turn at the podium.

Milton returns home and gets a visit from his worried daughter. Denise (Zoë Winters) thinks her father is losing his mind. She finds misplaced items in the house. Denise wants Milton to see a doctor and test his cognitive ability. He steadfastly refuses. Milton values his independence. He doesn't want an attendant or to move into assisted living. He'll stay put in his house where he belongs.

A Fantastic Ensemble

Ben Kingley in Jules
Bleecker Street

Several uneventful days go by with Milton going through the motions of his daily life. But everything changes dramatically one night after he falls asleep watching television. He hears a massive thud in the backyard. Milton goes outside to see a flying saucer spaceship has crashed into his azaleas. He hurries back inside and to bed. It had to be a dream. The next morning confirms it wasn't.

Milton's truly shocked to see a small, hairless, and blue alien lying injured near his steps. He doesn't have a clue what to do but tries to helpful. Milton covers the alien with a blanket and lays out an assortment of snacks. He's happy when the humanoid being eats the apple slices. Milton walks to the nearby supermarket and buys a cart full of apples. The cashier is stupefied when Milton replies they're for the alien at his house.

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Jules tickles the funny bone with Milton's frank honesty. He doesn't keep the alien a secret. No one believes him. Denise is especially concerned when she learns what he's been telling people. Her father has gone bonkers. He must need some kind of medical help. The plot hilariously thickens when Sandy goes to see Milton after hearing his alien comments. She almost keels over at the sight of Milton's apple-eating house guest. Her visits of course get Joyce's attention as she wonders what the heck is going on at Milton's house. The film's first act warmly sets the stage for the characters' deepening relationships.

Reactions would obviously be different if the alien looked like a bloodthirsty monster or was grotesquely weird. Jules, as the alien is soon called by Sandy, is drawn from classic science fiction imagery. The spaceship could be plucked from The Day the Earth Stood Still. Prolific producer turned director Marc Turtletaub (Little Miss Sunshine, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) doesn't want the audience concerned with its appearance. The most important aspect is to not be threatening or draw attention away from the breezy nature of the storyline.

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Newfound Friends

Jules 2023 movie cast
Bleecker Street

Jules turns into a kind ear for Milton, Sandy, and Joyce. These people are neighbors but kept each other at a distance. Each character has a subplot that explains their solitary state. Milton has children but feels like he was never a good father. Meeting Jules gives him the courage to admit he could have been better.

Sandy and Joyce have vastly different personalities. Their interactions with Jules are especially comical. The alien becomes a kind of therapist who isn't critical or giving burdensome advice. Jules recognizes that they are kind and honest, and springs into action on their behalf in extraordinary ways.

The film does have a vanilla approach. I kept waiting for something bigger to happen. There are quirky developments but nothing that raises your pulse. Turtletaub never strays far from the whimsical. He's not interested in promoting conflict. The alien's efforts to repair the ship with its newfound pals are knockdown funny. I can say unequivocally that you've never seen anything like what transpires in the climax. Jules is a sweet and gentle summer escape.

Jules is a Big Beach production. It will be released theatrically on August 11th from Bleecker Street.