Campbell Scott stars in “The 11th Green,” scheduled Tuesday at the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre during the Maine International Film Festival. Provided

Here are two things you need to know before the screen at the Skowhegan Drive-In Theatre lights up Tuesday night.

l. This will not be a grande review with tons of details, background on the stars, etc.  No Oscars will be offered, but no animals are harmed.

If I’m not careful, I could give away all the early clues that lead to the middle clues that would ruin the ending. So sit back, cuddle up and pay attention.

I’ll be brief and let you decide.

2. Area 51 refers to a map location and is the popular name for a United States Air Force base. It is at Groom Lake, a dry lake bed in the Nevada (are there any other kind?) Desert, 85 miles north of Las Vegas, without a Starbucks.

What goes on inside Area 51 is extremely secret. Members of the public are kept away by warning signs, electronic surveillance and armed guards.

It is also illegal to fly over Area 51. I’m told masks and social distancing are seriously enforced.

The film is by writer-director Christopher Munch. Among his credits are “The Hours and the Times,” about John Lennon and Brian Epstein’s excellent Spanish adventure, and “Letters from the Big Man,” his most recent theatrical feature.

Naturally this wasn’t filmed on that Area 51 base, or everyone connected with this movie would be dead.

It’s Munch’s conceit that not only did an interplanetary craft land there over 70 years ago, but was, of course, hushed up (that line is repeated several times in the film), the government thinking  that the American public, curious as they are, wouldn’t really want to know about stuff like anti-gravity devices and energy advancements that would improve the planet.

All of that would make “The 11th Green” sound like an animated documentary special for next Halloween. It’s so much better than that. Not great, not “All The President’s Men,” but a lot better than you’re prepared for. It’s a tight, albeit sometimes absurd script. But remember: If you had not been caught off guard, you would have thought it absurd that you’d be watching MIFF from the back seat of a car.

Here it is: Jeremy Rudd (Campbell Scott) is the host of a very serious, left-wing television news show (Rachel Maddow-ish) who learns his estranged father, a once-upon-a-dark-time four-star general in the United States Air Force involved in super spy machinations, has died suddenly.

So Jeremy is off to Nevada. Jeremy, we learn, is super paranoid and takes AMTRAK  from D.C., ignites his car engine from a safe distance, uses a typewriter that can’t be hacked, and is suspicious of everyone until he meets his pre-assigned blonde assistant (Agnes Bruckner). Keep both eyes on her.

His father’s desert house is extra lush and was once Dwight Eisenhower’s winter home.

Dwight (George Gerdes — “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), you’ll see, figures largely into the plot along with a much prettier Mamie (Katherine Leigh Scott).

Barack Obama (Leith M. Burke — Dr. McQueen on “Grey’s Anatomy”), known to the guests as the “colored socialist,” is sitting in the White House and somehow has private  meetings with Eisenhower, where they whisper about telling people the truth and revealing the “Visitors.”

One “Visitor” (Tom Stokes) makes an appearance and works with the CIA to keep the world from destroying itself.

I know how silly this all seems, and you would probably laugh your way through it were it not for the sincere performances of the prime players, Scott, Bruckner and Gerdes.

Cinematographer Sara Garth, a seasoned pro, has lots of fun framing the desert and mountains.

Some will sniff and guffaw, others will make notes to check out the rumors about Eisenhower and aliens, but I guarantee for all a fun summer night under the stars.

“The 11th Green” was made for the drive-in. Order the pizza early.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.


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