There's power in belief.
There's also power in being believed. There's power in having someone look at you and say "I believe you."
For Alien Guy Tim (Patrick McElroy), finding that belief is rather difficult because, well, Alien Guy Tim's story is pretty unbelievable. A quirky but rather likable guy, Alien Guy Tim is also passionately insistent that he has, in fact, been abducted by aliens on multiple occasions.
Despite being quirky and endearing, Alien Guy Tim is rather difficult to believe. He speaks with a slight hesitancy, his unique persona caught somewhere between social introversion and nerdish loner who doesn't really want to be alone. He's a sweet guy, but he's not exactly the kind of guy you'd want to find yourself alone with in a room.
You know the type. We all do. Heck, I may even be the type.
He's the kind of guy you hang out with a couple times a year, basically because you have to. It's part of the friendship contract. You always have a good time, but you still can't quite convince yourself that he's worth more of your time.
He's simply different.
This is intentional, of course. It's the way that McElroy, who scripted the film, has written the character and it's most certainly the way that McElroy embodies the character. Alien Guy Tim is an oddball and with the exception of a small, occasionally gathering group of fellow believers he's surrounded mostly by non-believers who think he needs a friends or, even moreso, professional help.
By the end of the 15-minute Alien Guy Tim, you'll likely find yourself rooting for this quirky little oddball even as you find yourself, if you're being honest, understanding the hesitation of those around him to buy into his story. This includes the documentary film crew that has been following him around for days and it includes his, dare I say normal, brother (Huntington Daly) and sister (Lauren Bair), whose more socially acceptable personalities leave them utterly befuddled by their rather out there sibling whom it seems has accomplished very little in life despite having amazing potential.
Directed by Scott Simerly Jr., Alien Guy Tim is the kind of film that seems like it's just a rather straightforward little short about a not so straightforward guy until about 2/3 of the way through the film when you realize there's a whole lot more going on and that McElroy's Alien Guy Tim is precisely the kind of guy we all need in our lives even as we most often avoid him. Editing has long been a strong suit for Simerly and there's no exception here as he intentionally immerses us in Tim's world and makes us linger in his slightly off-kilter worldview beyond our comfort level.
Then, he reminds us why lingering was worth it.
A modestly budgeted indie short, Alien Guy Tim is the kind of short film that almost seems like a throwaway in a block of shorts until you begin to realize a couple days later that it's the film you're actually still thinking about. Despite the inherent challenges of working on a modest budget, Simerly has crafted a film with oodles of charm and such a sweet, endearing sensibility that you can't help but enjoy it. That's helped tremendously by McElroy's infinitely appealing performance along with the supporting turns by Bair and Daly as his well-meaning but ultimately misguided siblings. The rest of the film's ensemble is equally strong.
Music by Brian Crimmins is inspired, possessing a sort of Hallmark Channel meets Discovery Channel vibe that plays out with a faux sentimentality that lulls your senses. Tyler Heckerman's lensing for the film is also strong.
Alien Guy Tim is one of those short films that is left open-ended enough that it will mean different things to different people. While some will see it as just this cute little sci-fi short, others, myself included, will be reminded of the power of living into our own stories even when no one else believes them and how maybe a little more belief could make this world a better place.
Continuing on the festival circuit, Alien Guy Tim is worth checking out if you get a chance.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic