In the realm of extraterrestrial cinema, two predominant paths often unfold: the realm of horror or the realm of tenderness. In Marc Turtletaub’s “Jules,” we find ourselves firmly immersed in the latter narrative avenue. Our central alien figure, known by the eponymous name Jules, crash-lands within the tranquil confines of a small Pennsylvania town. Notably distinct, Jules is a vegetarian entity, nourishing himself with slices of apple generously offered by his warmly hospitable human host.
Yet, while the film’s foundational concept may evoke familiarity among those who were introduced to the touching tale of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” during their upbringing, “Jules” takes a fresh approach by casting a trio of perplexed senior citizens as its protagonists. Each of them discovers an inherent connection with the alien’s position as an outsider, fully comprehending the potential ramifications should news of his Earthly arrival become public knowledge.
Milton (portrayed by Ben Kingsley) grapples with fading memories and a strained rapport with his grown daughter (Zoë Winters). Her concern escalates when he divulges an account of an alien spacecraft obliterating his bird bath. Feeling disregarded after seeking aid from fellow townspeople, Milton extends an inviting hand to the injured extraterrestrial, portrayed by Jade Quon, ushering Jules into his abode. Swiftly, a profound bond blossoms between the two, even though Jules, dubbed so affectionately by Milton, remains nonverbal. Astonishingly, he exhibits a keen grasp of the English language.
In due course, Milton’s neighbors, Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris) and Joyce (Jane Curtin), become privy to the presence of their otherworldly guest. Observing the enigmatic swarm of government officials that suddenly descends upon the town, the two decide to join forces with Milton, determined to safeguard their newfound friend’s clandestine existence.