Take a Drink: for random absurdities
Take a Drink: for classic film references
Take a Drink: for stock footage
Take a Drink: for every special New York touch
Take a Drink: for musical numbers
Do a Shot: for Wizard of Oz moments
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Youtube is a beautiful thing. Before it came around a few lost or unreleased films made their way around via bootleg videocassette, while you’d have to be friends with the director or producer to ever have a hope of seeing others. Nowadays, you never know when a forgotten masterpiece or folly will show up on the Youtubes.
I’m gonna watch you so hard.
One such film is Nothing Lasts Forever, a scifi dystopian comedy from Tom Schiller of SNL’s Schiller’s Reel fame, produced by Lorne Michaels, and featuring small roles for SNL alumni Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. It was never released, and only showed at a few film festivals and career retrospectives like Murray’s, who often demands it be included on the bill.
The plot, in which a young wanna-be artiste (Zach Galligan) travels to a post-pan USA disaster-era New York now run by the iron grip of the Port Authority, only to find that the real source of power is a homeless cabal of guardian angels who want him to travel to the Moon (a secret retirement resort/shopping paradise since 1953) and fall in love with a moon woman (moon people are all Asians, apparently) kind of tells you why test audiences rebelled and it never received a proper release.
America wasn’t quite ready for Asian moon people
That’s entirely to its credit in my eyes, though, as you’d be hard-pressed to find a more thoroughly unique film. The film is meticulously shot and designed to mirror retro 30s-50s films running the gamut from Frank Capra to Ed Wood, with a perfect throwback score by Howard Shore. This makes for some wonderfully absurdist humor like the bus to the moon with apparently unlimited interior space (there’s even a cocktail lounge!) as well as some sneakily effective social commentary, like the Brazil-like bureaucracy of the Port Authority, which even tests for artistic skill, and the “future art scene” whose lingo and humorously overblown displays are all the funnier for how believable they are.
This could be a Marina Abramovic or Shia LaBeouf piece, easy…
My favorite part hands-down, though, is the Moon Base for retirees, overseen by a tyrannical Murray and entirely centered on whitewashed consumerism. Moon tourism has been possible for decades, but like most tourist traps, it’s just an excuse to sell overpriced baubles to the gullible elderly.
Galligan plays the naive simpleton of a main character a little too well, and is still the exact same dimwitted young man at the end of the film as he is in the beginning. Also, as much as I enjoyed its style and commentary, Nothing Lasts Forever is a bit of an undercooked parable (particularly) in the end. It doesn’t pull together all of its strange tangents very well, and seems to rush through some to get to the next.
Nothing Lasts Forever is an imaginative, inventive cinematic oddity that deserved much more than the footnote status it ended up with. Don’t take my word for it, though, watch it yourself!