Retired divorcee Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) is preparing for Doomsday. He’s got it all figured out. Widowed Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner) is a hoarder, dealing with loss by shopping. He spies her in a grocery store, paying with cash, and figures she is a kindred spirit. He devises a parking lot meet, and eventually they are going to dinner, watching movies and becoming intertwined in their hum-drum oddball lives. He’s always concerned about tomorrow and she wants him to live for today.
At first glance, “The Tomorrow Man” appears tailor-made as a quirky romantic drama for senior citizens, but it’s fortuitous pairing of John Lithgow and Blythe Danner as lonelyhearts with plenty of baggage can’t rise above their character flaws.
This strange couple checks off the boxes of a usual rom-com formula, and the writing of first-time feature director Noble Jones is quite clever and quotable: “Crazy times call for crazy people” is one to remember.
However, the pacing is rather flat, and the film doesn’t benefit from a ‘cute’ montage set to music where they’re being playful shoppers. Jones, a second unit director on “The Social Network,” is known for music videos for Taylor Swift, One Republic and Keith Urban. He has a good eye for details amid the daily grind.
The film has good intentions but gets stuck in the middle and can’t find a way to elevate it above average. Lithgow and Danner are always interesting to watch but these parts aren’t challenging for them – Ed is not that likable and we never can figure Ronnie out. Of course, there’s a big blow-up family Thanksgiving Dinner scene. Oh, that’s original. A better movie is Danner’s “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”
“The Tomorrow Man” made its bow at the Sundance Film Festival and may get traction as a streaming release but it needed more snap, crackle and pop to stand out.