SXSW 2023 Molli And Max In The Future Review- Charming Sci-Fi Rom-Com Has Something For Everyone
Molli And Max In The Future, showing at SXSW 2023, is a delightful low-fi sci-fi rom-com that will have audiences in stitches.
Like the satirical future dystopian comedy Idiocracy, this delightfully self-aware film plays to its sizable strengths. With a talented crew and pitch-perfect cast, Molli and Max is what movies should be. It is utterly unique, universally appealing, and thoroughly entertaining. It’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser destined to be watched again and again.
Molli, Zosia Mamet(The Flight Attendant), is a likably hippy dippy dreamer, and Max, SNL’s Aristotle Athari, is a mech-bro (that’s mech-fighter for those who haven’t seen the movie) half-fish person who runs right into Molli one day while out in space. The two have immediate chemistry, but it takes twelve years, multiple universes, a sex cult, a possibly incestuous robot relationship, cyber dating disasters, countless planets, a plague, and a Trumpian catastrophe to find their way to each other.
Michael Lukk Litwalk’s Molli And Max In The Future is a labor of love that bleeds charm through every color-saturated frame. Bright, celestial backdrops, night sky cityscapes from dimensions parallel to Blade Runner, and gloriously goofy stop-motion animation are all used to good effect. It’s a lot to take in and can take a minute to acclimate, but once you allow yourself to be immersed in this jazzy world where she is just a girl standing in front of a boy wanting to be loved, you are hooked.
We all love a good love story, particularly one that takes time to play out. Like Tim Curry’s Frankenfurter once purred, we “shiver with anticipation.” Molli And Max give us plenty to like, though, while we wait for the inevitable moment these two fated souls make their way to each other’s hearts. There are near-constant sight gags and an onslaught of pointed political and societal humor that keeps your head spinning.
They bicker incessantly about things like flying cars being unnatural, black turtlenecks, and cheese. It would be annoying if it weren’t so fall-down funny. There’s a splashy devil-may-care vibe to the entire film that is more fun than it should be, but somehow is. Everything reads just this side of serious but with an undercurrent of reality that is hard to ignore.
Molli and Max pointedly critiques our current lives’ ridiculousness but in a bubble gum, neon-soaked retrofuturesque world that showcases lovingly crafted DIY effects. It all works. The effects, the editing, the soundtrack by Alex Winkler, and the chipper dialogue delivered seamlessly by our two leads and a flurry of recognizable actors gell together in a hilarious mix of feel-good sweetness and alarmingly accurate reality.
Severance’s Michael Chernus and Mythic Quest’s Aparna Nancherla as Turboschmuck, and fellow candidate Rachel are standouts. Chernus’ Trumpster-style trash-demon candidate and Rachel’s average human who may or may not have eczema are so on the nose it’s uncomfortable. Athari and Mamet are great together and have a believable relationship that reads time earned instead of forced. The meet/cute affection between the romantic leads finding their way back to each other across absurd circumstances is adorable.
What Idiocrasy did for consumerism and capitalism, Molli And Max In The Future does for our current societal woes, but more importantly for love. There are clever things said about apocalyptic fatigue and shortened attention spans, but just as many smart life truths are made about love, respect, and commitment.
Molli And Max In The Future knows its lane and firmly stays between the lines while also taking the road less traveled. It’s a deliriously kooky film that defies expectations and its budget. It’s a lovely film that reminds us sometimes all we need is love, and you don’t have to change everything about yourself to be happy. Sometimes you need to find someone who already loves the person or fish you already are.
Find all our SXSW coverage here.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.