Pull up a hoverchair, sci-fi comedy fans – we’re rocketing a thousand years into the future for an out-of-this-world indie rom-com called “Molli and Max in the Future.” This low-budget labor of love comes from first-time writer/director Michael Lukk Litwak, looking to put his own zippy spin on the tried-and-true “When Harry Met Sally” formula.
Leading the journey through parallel dimensions and cosmic meet-cutes are rising stars Zosia Mamet (you may know her dad) and former SNL featured player Aristotle Athari. They breeze through the clever rapid-fire dialogue and green screen galactic backdrops with plenty of fizzy chemistry. The story follows their characters, the free-spirited Molli and anxious inventor Max, as fate keeps bringing them back together over the years, leading to plenty of neurotic banter about relationships, purpose, and whether they should just make out already.
With charmingly DIY visuals and a breezy sense of humor, “Molli and Max” sets out to recapture the scrappy indie rom-com magic of yesteryear. So leave your cynicism in this dimension, and get ready to root for our heroes as they bumble towards love among the asteroids.
A Cosmic Twist on the Classic Rom-Com Formula
At its glowing green heart, “Molli and Max in the Future” is a hip galactic riff on the timeless “When Harry Met Sally” template. We begin with a cheerful fender-bender in space that brings together our scrappy heroes – crystal hunter Molli (Mamet), a free spirit following her bliss, and half-human/half-fish tech whiz Max (Athari), anxious but dreaming of sports stardom.
After some amusingly barbed banter, a friendship forms…until Molli gets summoned away to battle evil across the cosmos. When fate reunites them years later, Max has become a celebrity gladiator dueling robots, while Molli is catching heat for joining a cult led by the sinister love god Moebius (Onaodowan). Though each harbors deeper feelings, they just keep missing their moment.
Across a series of charmingly lo-fi animated time jumps, we watch the likable leads struggle through relationships and interdimensional crises, always reconnecting but never quite getting in sync romantically. Max pines for his buddy while Molli samples weird sex and drums up voters against a Trumpian tyrant named Turboschmuck (Chernus). Quirky side characters voice nagging questions – will our heroes ever get real?
From magic and robots to a “pu-box” for test driving romance, the futuristic touches accentuate the story’s sweetly old-fashioned core. Can Max and Molli embrace their flaws, confront their fears, and admit they’re perfect for each other before the universe ends? With buoyant wit and zero CGI budgets, “Molli and Max” mashes up madcap sci-fi and nostalgic romance into an indie cocktail both familiar and bracingly original.
Love and Laughter Across the Space-Time Continuum
While “Molli and Max” offers plenty of zippy sci-fi shenanigans, at its gooey center pulsates a heartfelt exploration of relationships and belonging. Through all the wacky future shock twists, the story ultimately grapples with those timeless human questions – will I ever find real love and connection? Does the universe want me to be happy?
Litwak infuses the fantastical premise with a wistful affection for old-school rom-coms and classic indie quirk. The film radiates nostalgia for the heyday of talky, neurotic love stories, while blending in an anarchic Monty Python-esque sense of absurdist humor. Outrageous touches like a phone booth to parallel worlds, riots over a cheese shortage, or an alien demigod’s floppy sex tentacles all enhance the general mood of affectionate strangeness.
And whether our heroes are awkwardly dodging romance or battling across space, the tone stays balanced between cheeky and sincere. Like in all the best romantic comedies, we sense these two lost souls are destined to be together, if only they get out of their own way. And the lovably janky visuals and banter-heavy dialogue manage to keep the whimsy pumping even when the story veers into broad satire.
By the end of “Molli and Max,” we feel Litwak has accomplished the mission of both winking sci-fi and romance genres – using outrageous fantasy to illuminate those tender, painful, and hilarious realities of the human heart.
Winning Chemistry Anchors the Cosmic Whimsy
While “Molli and Max” surrounds its central duo with all manner of space oddities, the film soars on the workplace comedy-honed chemistry between leads Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari. As the self-searching Molli and anxiety-prone Max, they make a classic odd couple, balancing each other’s energy perfectly with funny, feel-good results.
Mamet brings plenty of her signature motor-mouthed wit from “Girls,” making Molli lovably neurotic. But she also locates real vulnerability as Molli ricochets from cults to activism, hiding her romantic yearnings behind a smokescreen of quips. And Athari (recently seen on SNL) grounds Max’s deadpan everyfish demeanor with subtle depths of sensitivity and dry humor. Whenever fate reunites them, that palpable character history draws us right back into their bumpy relationship.
The supporting cast also shines in rounding out the kooky future world. Flashing a tentacled sex appeal, Onaodowan slyly seduces as the demigod charlatan Moebius. Political candidate Turboschmuck makes a memorably vulgar villain for Nancherla’s earnest hero to rally against. And Darke brings charming fizz to her Siri-like android love interest. The actors clearly relish Litwak’s playful dialogue, selling the emotion behind all the make-believe.
As in the best indie rom-com ensembles, everyone plugs cleanly into their roles while making space for Mamet and Athari’s outstanding chemistry to glitter. We believe these flawed kindred spirits belong together because we see how well the performers connect, grounding this loopy sci-fi fantasy in relatable relationship humor. By the end, we’re fully invested in their quest for love among the asteroid belt.
Delightfully Retro Backdrops Align with Indie Spirit
Considering its micro-budget, “Molli and Max” pulls off some impressively immersive worldbuilding, even if it’s not always seamless eye candy. The film was shot almost entirely on green screens, pairing simple in-camera effects with homemade props and digital backdrops. This DIY aesthetic fits perfectly with the scrappy indie rom-com energy.
The visuals radiate affection for old-school practical techniques with a welcome tech upgrade. Miniatures, models and prosthetics bring tangible charm, while BC-era animation and video game-esque CGI fill in the galactic gaps. The overall style lands somewhere between a music video from the 80s, budget anime, and artsy undergraduate sci-fi.
Some moments do look distractingly rough or fake, especially in conveying the scope of cities and space travel. A few shots even retain visible green edges. But for the most part, the low-fi charm enhances the whimsical comedy rather than limiting it. Clever worldbuilding touches like nano-cloth costumes or the battle bot arenas pop from the stylized backgrounds. And when focusing on the characters, a retro soundstage vibe prevails.
From the Blade Runner-esque skyline of Megalopolis to Oceanus’s underwater desolation, we sense rich worlds behind the colorful facades. It’s consistently obvious that ingenuity trumped finances in shaping the environments. But that handmade novelty fits the quirky personality, helping stretch each dollar towards inventive results. Ultimately, the DIY visuals forge character just as distinctly as any effects epic.
Heavy Hand Weighs Down the Satire
For all its loopy charms, “Molli and Max” does let ambitious reach exceed grasp in places. Litwak jams a lot of sci-fi worldbuilding around the central romance, not all of which sticks the landing. And some attempts at sociopolitical commentary come off clunky rather than incisive.
The running gag introducing a Trump stand-in called Turboschmuck offers prime example. While scenes of him spouting vulgarity on a debate stage garner easy laughs, the broad parody lacks teeth. Litwak seems torn between holding up an absurdist mirror to modern life and avoiding ruffling feathers.
Similar critiques could apply to the worldbuilding overload. Lavish creativity clearly shaped this universe, but we only glimpse corners of it. By cramming in so many oddities, from magic powers to talking dolphins to a multiverse invasion scare, the story risks losing connection with its heart. Molli and Max ground us when onscreen, but their relationship should remain central rather than battling for breathing room with endless quirky fluff.
Still, it’s hard to fault Litwak’s ambition. All great indie films bite off more than they can chew. Despite uneven sociopolitical commentary and tendencies towards overstuffing, “Molli and Max” mostly succeeds on moxie, charm and the lively chemistry between its two very human leads.
This Future Romance Has Timeless Appeal
For all its interdimensional escapades, “Molli and Max in the Future” stays grounded in universally relatable humor about the quest for connection. Through goofy banter, robots, and cheese shortage anxieties alike, Litwak celebrates our common humanity while keeping the laughs flowing.
Could the film smooth some rough visual patches and strengthen its attempts at sociopolitical bite? Sure. Occasional jokes flop, the worldbuilding has holes, the CGI looks glitchy here and there. But no indie rom-com achieves perfection on a near-zero budget. Instead, Litwak wins us over through sheer heartfelt sincerity.
Anchored by Mamet and Athari’s outstanding chemistry, “Molli and Max” ultimately succeeds as both comedy and sci-fi. Rooted deeply in indie tradition yet dusted with millennial quirks, it brings fresh notes to a familiar melody we never tire of hearing. The story’s future setting may look modestly janky, but its wisdom on love and acceptance feels timeless.
So beam aboard this lovable rocketship back to rom-com glory days. Take Molli and Max’s hands to laugh through lightning-speed banter, shedding a happy tear when they finally kiss in the meteor shower’s glow. Whether you need your faith in human connection restored or just want solid chuckles, this cosmic pairing should steer date nights back on course.
molli and max in the future
For all its flaws, "Molli and Max in the Future" ultimately wins us over with wit, heart and lovably bargain visuals. This is as sincere a sci-fi rom-com valentine as they come.
- Winning lead chemistry between Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari
- Clever dialogue and rapid-fire humor
- Creative low-budget visuals befitting quirky tone
- Nostalgic spirit captures rom-com and sci-fi magic
- Absurd gags and worldbuilding enhance the whimsy
- Uneven sociopolitical commentary lacks insight
- Scope too ambitious for indie budget constraints
- Distracting CGI and green screen edges
- Struggles to balance satire with sincerity
- Side characters less developed