Five Weekquaesgeek who leased Manhattan to the Dutch 400 years ago return to reclaim their land in this caper.
In 1626, Gov. Gen. Peter Minuit tricked Chief Flying Cloud into signing over a 400- (not 40-) year lease on Manhattan Island. Since then, Minuit, a powerful wizard, has exerted a controlling influence on the borough, buying real estate and demanding obeisance from politicians and criminals alike. For their part, Chief Flying Cloud and the remnants of his tribe have been in a mystical sleep, waiting for the 400 years to pass. They awake in Central Park and meet Tom Linden, a tour guide with a master’s in American history. Tom is moved to help the Weekquaesgeek pursue their claim, but first he must acclimatize them to New York City in all its unfathomable modernity. Minuit, meanwhile, creates a golem to set upon Chief Flying Cloud. Will Tom and the Weekquaesgeek survive this and other attacks? Can the Native Americans reassemble the Spear of Lightning and Thunder and take back what is theirs? Can the wizard be defeated? And does Tom have a chance with the chief’s fearsome daughter, Fights Like a Man? De Castro (Chasing Your Tail, 2017) has crafted a film comedy in prose form and makes suitably merry with the culture clash between displaced Native Americans and modern New Yorkers (the former often showing up the absurdities of the latter). The authenticity of the Weekquaesgeek characterization is hard to judge except to say that they come across as honorable, intelligent, and far more capable than the Americans who supplanted them. The present-day players are over-the-top, but in the deliberately heightened, snappy-dialogue way of rom-coms. The supernatural creatures are played for laughs, the drollest of which come from the pacifist golem as it seeks out its own destruction at the inept hands of the NYPD. Tom in many ways is the least developed of the protagonists, but such, perhaps, is the way of the stock Everyman character. The lighthearted adventure froths along regardless and carries him with it—well-scripted, if inconsequential.
A diverting comedy familiar in style though unusual in content.