Vanamehe film; AKA The Old Man: The Movie
Screening online for Canadians at 2020’s online Fantasia Film Festival
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DIRECTED BY: Oskar Lehemaa, Mikk Mägi
FEATURING: Voices of Märt Avandi, Jaagup Kreem, Mart Kukk
PLOT: Three kids are dropped off at grandpa’s to spend the summer in the country, and things go crazy when his prize cow wanders from the barn.
COMMENTS: What better way to wrap up the summer than to visit a dairy farm in the beautiful Estonian countryside? Milky clouds, milk-obsessed townsfolk, and a milk-blooded villain all await in a sleepy unnamed town in the middle of nowhere that faces an impending Lactopalypse. The silliness in The Old Man Movie is off the charts; as I recently remarked to a friend, this is the most ridiculous moo-vie I’ve seen all year.
Mart, Priidik, and Naim are unceremoniously pushed out of their parents’ car in front of a derelict barn that’s emitting strange wailing sounds. They enter, and we are introduced to a trio of darkly chanting sheep, a quietly sinister pig, and the creepiest cockerel ever to grace the screen. Off in the dark corner, surrounded by piles of manure, sits the source of the wailing: an old man, frantically milking a cow. He rises, seems to have a stroke, and collapses face-down onto his milking bucket. There is a funeral, and a local hobo swipes the ceremonial bottle of vodka laid with the old man. A bitter-looking old woman spits on the corpse before kicking its funeral bier into the river—flicking her cigarette on to the kindling. But the man arises, and so begins Mart, Priidik, and Naim’s adventures with grandpa.
After recovering from the creamsplosion at the film’s climax (whoops, spoiler alert), I did a little research and found that this oddity was no weirdo one-off, but the culmination of this guy‘s work over the past decade. Imagine that cross-over between Shaun the Sheep and The Mighty Boosh you’ve been dreaming about, and you’ll know the tone. The Old Man Movie is the kind of film that makes me wish we had a “Ridiculous!” tag at 366, because by the end you’ll have seen a newsreel about a milk-mushroom cloud, a creepy sex tree, the lead singer of an Estonian metal group slashing a power ballad from the (literal) bowels of a bear, and cinema’s one and only “Cowju” monster.
There isn’t much more to say about The Old Man Movie, ’cause you’ll know within minutes whether it’s right for you. The 2020 Fantasia Festival officially opened with some creepy-looking period drama set during plague years, but I’m thrilled to have kicked my remote coverage off right with a deep dive into a creamy bucket of inspired foolishness.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“Scenes where one of the children left behind builds a mechanical cow to satisfy the hoard of thirsty customers or where characters must use the power of rock and roll to escape the colon of a giant bear that has just eaten them exemplifies this idea of a silly and bizarre concept coming together with immature and low-brow humor to create a truly hilarious set piece… It’s immature, it’s crass, it’s vulgar, and it’s all the better for it.” -Sean Coates, MovieBabble.com (contemporaneous)