Great content sells hardware, events and just about everything else; SXSW amped up their regular buzz this year due to last year’s smash hit, Everything, Everywhere, All At Once storming what remains of the Oscars and taking home the Best Picture winner; the most popular winner of the category for years. While imitations are inevitable, SXSW 2023 has offered up plenty of quirky, original fare, and while the search is inevitably on for the next Everything, Everywhere, Molli and Max in the Future will do just fine to calm the jets of today’s super-charged cool-seekers seeking the next big thing.
Encompassing 12 years, 4 planets, 3 dimensions and one rather dodgy space-cult, Molli and Max in the Future is the debut feature from Michael Lukk Litwak, and it’s a raucous, colourful sci-fi rom-com. Landing somewhere between the more lyrical moments of Douglas Adams and a retro-futurist take on Nora Ephron, Litwak’s film does make one huge borrowing; it apes Ephron’s When Harry Met Sally, right down to the initial meet-cute in a accidental car-share situation. To be derivative is often a fault, but it’s this only big borrowing in an otherwise defiantly original film, and the When Harry Met Sally 2.0 vibe may help attract a mainstream audience to the film. Two fresh and personable leads Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari play Molli and Max respectively, who become friends after meeting in a literal accident, and while they don’t see each other as romantic partners, come to understand each other better than their transitory passions do. So at what point could or should these two friends become lovers?
The details of our future youth are outlandish but undeniably entertaining; fish-man Max wants to be a mech fighter, crystal-fan Molli gets sucked into the cult around a demi-god with feet of clay, while outer-space politics are devolving into game-show logic led by Trump-level repellent candidate Turboschmuck (Michael Chernus). In a nice twist on rom-com conventions, Molli and Max can just buy a gadget that shows what happens if they become a couple in an alternate universe, and Molli and Max wisely choose to avoid that specific potential future. In a busy, cheerful film, the narrative of Molli and Max’s progress through the years grows on the viewer, less because of the current political satire than because of the wonderful, cartoonish chaos of monsters and aliens around them.
Jammed full of ingenious use of the Unreal Engine, Molli and Max more than passes muster as a cult item; it’s got a potential crossover appeal to romantics, sci-fi fans, or even better, incurable romantic sci-fi fans. It’s silly and lightweight, but also manages to sketch, in a commendably brief 90 mins, a picture of blossoming love through ages yet unlived; if you can get your head around the deliberately wacky concept, it’s safe to predict you’ll enjoy Molli and Max in the Future.
Molli and Max are so far in the future, there’s no trailer as yet; I’ll add one to this review as soon as it appears…
How does it feel to be a super-charged cool-seeker? Do you work off of energy drinks?
Does this movie have any guys in kilts getting hit in the crotch? Because if it doesn’t I think I’ll pass. I liked yesterday’s movie better.
Sigh. Yes, Grandpa, you can watch your clip of Michael Caine getting a rope to his kilted balls again, if you must.
I can understand why you would ask what it’s like to be a cool seeker; what’s the opposite, a cool avoider?
A red hot chili pepper.
Michael Caine getting hit in the balls . . . now I’m laughing again!
Imagine Michael Caine getting hit in the balls…forever! That is the future!
I didn’t like EEAAO so probably won’t like this so nope. All these extra dimensions are very annoying.
There’s a lot more of that stuff to come, but this is cute if it ever turns up on streaming…
90 minutes is a big draw all by itself!
Do you remember when movies were only 90minutes?
Pepperidge Farms Remembers….
It’s always a big draw for me if the film-maker is prepared to get their movie on and not over-stay their welcome.
More and more I too look at the runtime when deciding whether or not to watch something.
It’s not that I mind spending 2-3 hours with a film if it’s warranted, but so often they just need trimmed.
It’s like an 800page book. It’s a deciding factor in the equation…
What is a book?
Barbarian, heathen, loutish beast!
Only kidding, I know what a book is, it’s like a comic book but with no pics, right?
I weep for the world.
I will cry a river…
Dry your eyes, mate, and get over to my place and read my review of JW4!
Not even JW4 can comfort me in this, my direst of hours, when the steel enters my soul.
Get a grip! JW solves all…
There needs to be a serious reason for any film to last more than two hours…anything under 100 mins indicates brevity, or a potential shambles.
Exactly. The standard contract is I give you 90 minutes of my life and you tell me a story. If you want more time, you gotta make it worth my while……
Fortunately, JW4 proved me wrong, but you’ll have to start with the first one to understand why…