A man sits in his underwear, eating dinner, and watching the news while the anchor person speaks directly to him, repeating that “Ed Hemsler is right about everything.”
The man, Ed, then goes to the grocery store to purchase several cans of tuna and battery packs, paying for his purchase with a check. He goes there often, we learn, because he knows when it’s an employee’s first day, as she doesn’t yet know Ed. See, Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) spends his life preparing for a disaster that may never come.
The monotonous nature of this routine is coupled with beautifully-shot scenes, where transitions are seamless and Ed is shown to be the only figure in the room. And then he sees her, a mystery woman named Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner), and suddenly life enters the film.
Ed, standing several feet behind her at the register, surveys her purchase. Whatever he gets out of the random assortment of cleaning supplies and food – and the fact that she pays in cash – hooks him, because he spends the next few days trying to get closer to her, going so far as parking next to her in an empty lot so that she is forced to talk to him.
As the film develops, we learn that Ronnie Meisner spends her life shopping for things she may never use, making this pair a perfect match as they try not to get lost in each other’s stuff. What starts out as a slow introduction with Ed giving off stalker vibes turns into a clumsy rom-com about two older people meeting and finding meaning in a world that doesn’t get them.
At the end of the film, Ed is forced to come to terms that maybe the TV was wrong and he isn’t always right, just as the audience learns something else. It is by no means the best movie of the year, with a slow start and a couple of dry scenes that take you out of the story, but it is a feel-good comedy that puts a smile on even the grumpiest of faces.
“The Tomorrow Man” – rated PG-13 – officially opens in Dallas on June 14 but is now viewing at Landmark’s Magnolia.