FANTASTIC FEST 2020: ‘The Old Man’

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The Old Man

The Old Man, a film directed and written by Oskar Lehemaa and Mikk Mägi, made its US premiere at this year’s Fantastic Fest. The film follows three young children as they spend their summer with their grandfather at his farm near an Estonian village. Their grandfather is the local milkman, a position that was previously held by a man known as the Older Milker. The Old Milker lost his position after he was blamed for a big explosion after not milking his prized cow. The accident caused the Old Milker to be infused with milk. Filled with jealously and hatred for cows, the Old Milker targets the kids and their grandfather after the kids managed to let their prized cow loose. Thus begins a wild and hilarious adventure in which everyone has 24 hours before another explosion occurs.

The Old Man is one of those rare films that takes a simple object like milk and manages to create something truly incredible and unique. Siblings having to spend a long period of time with other relatives isn’t necessarily a new premise, but the way in which the film handles it is fantastic. Incorporating the road-trip adventure made way for many hilarious moments. On top of all that, putting milk at the center of the story is what makes the film special. The degree to which the town takes milk so seriously that they would put the blame on the Old Milker for the accident is both hilarious and sad. In the present time, the town starts to lose control while the kids and their grandfather search for the cow. That scene points out just how outrageous everything about the movie really is.

The use of stop-motion animation adds to what makes The Old Man such a unique film. The attention to detail for all the characters was incredible. The kids at the start of the film look like they’re from the city and surrounded by technology. Their grandfather’s character design is what viewers would expect from a farmer but his facial expressions make him stand out. Several of the other villagers have their own unique looks, which shows the dedication that the film crew put to make the film. However, the one character to stand out the most was the Old Milker. Since he was infused with milk from the explosion, his entire body was made up of it. This leads to many moments of comedy while also being a bit gross. The gross factor fully fit to who he was and what his ambitions were.

The Old Man

As mentioned previously, there were countless moments of comedy all throughout The Old Man. A lot of the comedy comes from the dead-eye facial expressions. The grandfather does this a lot, especially when interacting with the kids. There’s also a lot of physical comedy throughout the film. From the trailer, it wouldn’t be surprising if viewers have worries about the physical comedy dominating the story, but it only adds to how great the film is. One of the funniest moments takes place towards the second half of the film and involves a bear. Without delving too much into spoilers, it’s a moment that’s completely unexpected while also ingenious. The entire scene made me laugh uncontrollably and I enjoyed every minute of it.

On the promotional page for The Old Man, the film’s comedy is compared to the likes of Rick and Morty in terms of how far it’s willing to go. However, there were several moments where the comedy was taken a bit too far. It’s understandable to use comedy to push boundaries in terms of deciding what is and isn’t funny, but there should be a limit. Making numerous sexual jokes throughout the film is something that some viewers might find funny, but including one too many of those jokes is too much. It gets to the point where the scene isn’t funny but becomes rather uncomfortable to watch. Had those kinds of jokes not appeared as much, they would’ve had a bigger comedic effect on the film.

Overall, I quite enjoyed watching The Old Man at this year’s Fantastic Fest. The film is one of those rare finds that once watched, it becomes hard to imagine not having watched it in the first place. The unique premise and having it revolve around milk makes the film stand out. The stop-motion animation was superb and the character designs were fantastic. The comedic moments throughout the film made the film much more enjoyable than expected. However, there were a few jokes that were a bit too much, which in turn disrupted the flow of the film. This is one film that will be watched once it’s officially released on home media.

The Old Man had its U.S. premiere at the 2020 Fantastic Fest on September 26, 2020.

The Old Man
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    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10