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Aliens. Adventure. Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Movie Title: I’ll Believe You (2007, DVD release: November 2009)
Spoilers: No

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Nighttime can mean different things to different people. The night hours are those forsaken hours when the world rests while a select few of us have the privilege of working. The normal people are asleep, the restaurants closed, and the clamorous sounds of traffic and big business have been brought to a welcomed halt. But nighttime has the queer distinction of being the time when the flying saucer people come out.

If you’re up at the wee hours of the morning, you can catch a broadcast of Coast-to-Coast AM, the nationwide radio show that for years has featured a myriad of mentally insane guests, ranging from your ordinary quack promoting “energized water” to the standard psychotic who believes that a piece of tinfoil placed squarely between your eyes will unlock the ability to see auras.

The show’s most popular hosts, George Noory and Art Bell, do what all good mystics will endeavor to do when confronted with mysteries, and that is draw the most extraneous and far-reaching conclusions possible. But these half-psycho sensationalist sell-outs are not alone.

Meet I'll Believe You's Dale Sweeney (David Alan Basche), late night radio talk show host for WMEL radio in Melbourne, Florida. When the sound of the crickets gets low enough, you can hear Dale’s eloquence as he fills that oh-so-coveted 1 am timeslot. He’s a solid mystic, wanting like heaven to believe in something beyond what he can see or hear or feel. He’s in search of aliens, as is his ridiculously small listening audience.

Mr. Fratus (Fred Willard) is the station manager. Willard’s comedic spontaneity would, if it were possible, lift a planet right out of its orbit. Mr. Fratus never fails to look out for #1, nor does he relent in endowing others with his pragmatic wisdom: “Religious people spend money. Crazy people hoard cats.” I couldn’t agree more. He’s on Dale like white on rice to get the ratings up…or else!

Not wanting to be out of work and compelled to join his brother’s workforce of way cool water hose salesmen, Dale finds himself in the pits of despair until an obscure phone call to his show starts to arouse some attention. A newly motivated Dale and his two trusted friends, Paige Zinke (Cece Pleasants) and Officer Nick Senna (Patrick Gallo) begin a comically imbued hunt for a visitor from another world.

Unlike Dale, Paige is someone who holds logic in high regard, a teacher with a science background. She’s the always-fun-to-be-around skeptic who never makes you feel stupid, though she can get as wound up as the best of us: “If I see you wearing a red vest, I swear to God, I will punch you in the spleen!” Pretty Paige can suck the energy right out of a scene, but she can also give it back in offering an intelligent persona contrast that ends up complimenting those of the other characters.

What begins with gusto starts to seem as if it’s not going anywhere. But it does go somewhere. Where it goes is to a hardware store, a school, and to the beach in one of the most unlikely searches for extraterrestrial life you’ll ever see. Though not quite reaching phenomenal, I’ll Believe You holds its own in the humor department, with polished performances by Patrick Warburton (voice of “Joe Swanson” of Family Guy) and The Hangover’s Ed Helms as Leon, a guy with a watertight plan to catch the Loc Ness monster. I’ve never seen Helms quite this funny.

What makes I’ll Believe You a success is not the material (which, in and of itself, can be a bit flighty), but the characters. Strong writing makes a more than smile-worthy film, graced with the talents of a contending, chemistry-charged cast. The energy between them says this was more a labor of love than anything else. A few hoky scenes and one failed character adaptation aside, no particular fault heavily detracts from the presentation.

The message of I’ll Believe You is that the future is not about silver jumpsuits and things unfamiliar—rather, that notion is cleverly lampooned. It’s about not fearing the future. It’s about taking responsibility to follow the compass of the heart. Just don’t take yourself or your endeavors too seriously along the way. The journey towards the future can often be more enjoyable than actually being there…and just maybe as enjoyable as eating ice cream sandwiches!

(JH)

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Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: PG
Director: Paul Francis Sullivan
Summary: A late night radio talk show host thinks he is being contacted by a UFO.
Starring: David Alan Basche “Dale Sweeney,” Patrick Warburton “Dr. Seth Douglass,” Siobhan Fallon “Larry Jean,” Patrick Gallo “Officer Nick Senna,” Cece Pleasants “Paige Zinke,” Fred Willard “Mr. Fratus,” Thomas Gibson “Kyle Sweeney,” Chris Elliott “Eugene the Gator Guy,” Ed Helms “Leon”
Genre: Comedy / Sci-fi
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