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‘Molli and Max in the Future’ Review: A ‘When Harry Met Sally’ Inspired Galactic Rom-Com

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Imagine a movie that combines Tron, Guardians of the Galaxy, and, somehow, When Harry Met Sally. Once the image of the film appears, add astral projections, cults, cosmic gods, and interdimensional trash planets. For most filmmakers, throwing this number of fantastic concepts into one film would be too much luggage. But Michael Lukk Litwak’s writing and direction in Molli and Max in the Future seamlessly fit together in a simple, quirky rom-com.

Besides all the colorful ingredients, there is little new here. Rom-coms have an unapologetic approach to their formula. But with Molli and Max in the Future, it’s the same formula with a splash of cosmic paint. The model might be the standard Jetta seen driving around the block, but it has an astrological facelift.

Molli and Max in the Future: a space age love story

The film revolves around two strangers who meet in space after a collision between their vehicles. Max (Aristotle Athari), who had designed his own vehicle, is left with no choice but to ride with the other stranger, Molli (Zosia Mamet), after his vehicle crashes. Initially, their interactions are confrontational, mainly due to Max’s lack of insurance. However, over time, their relationship evolves into a friendly one.

As the interactions occur, we begin to perceive the film’s visual setting. Each scene is presented in a romantic comedy style, with two characters engaging in semi-flirtatious conversations in various locations, while the background showcases vivid intergalactic landscapes. The filmmakers have accomplished this through the skillful use of green screen technology, and some sequences appear to use technology akin to The Volume.

After the space collision, Molli and Max become close friends. But as time goes on, life keeps pulling them apart. Yet, by some cosmic coincidence, the universe keeps drawing them together over the course of 12 years.

Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari in Molli and Max in the Future
Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari in Molli and Max in the Future. (Level 33)

A modest VFX budget stretched like a gymnast in this sci-fi rom-com

One of the most impressive aspects of Molli and Max in the Future is its execution of VFX artistry. The movie isn’t intended to create a realistic atmosphere, but to capture a playful aesthetic. For instance, Max desires to participate in robot combat tournaments, similar to mech robots seen in Pacific Rim but without the kaiju. The battle bots have a claymation appearance and are supplemented with CGI elements. The claymation style doesn’t feel authentic but contributes to the movie’s lighthearted tone. Additionally, the art design is highly detailed.

The various environments in the background exhibit similar characteristics. The filmmakers’ aim is not to fully engulf the audience in a Star Wars-type setting. Instead, they achieve something that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania aspired to do. The visual world captures the essence of Rick and Morty in a way that Marvel could not achieve. Black holes change color to indicate danger, a light blue glow illuminates space, and the cities depicted in the live-action backgrounds feel like they are taken straight out of Futurama.

When Harry Met Sally with a twist of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The two primary characters in the movie undergo stages comparable to those portrayed by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Moreover, both films depict a friendship that borders on romance over the course of 12 years. Although some viewers might find it a little too familiar, it often seems like a tribute to the 1989 classic.

What makes Molli and Max in the Future different is the genre-bending add-ons to the film. The rom-com elements are complimented with off-the-wall, zany, and fantastical ideas such as space cults, cosmic love gods, interdimensional self-help, and so many more. It’s in the same chaotic vein as a Rick and Morty episode, with an added flavor of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

For example, Molli and Max are concerned their friendship will be complicated if they date each other. The uncertainty inspires them to use a device to converse with alternate versions of themselves in ever-splitting dimensions.

Molli and Max in the Future is a galactic romance for anyone to enjoy

The inclusion of humor, creativity, far-reaching ideas within sci-fi/ fantasy, and a charming romance make Molli and Max in the Future feel universal. It accomplishes all these concepts with the spirit of an indie film. The final film is visually striking for a movie centered on characters discussing their love life.

With Valentine’s Day this week, Molli and Max in the Future is an excellent option for couples looking for something fresh. Romantic comedies are not as common these days, and romantic comedies set in space are even rarer. This movie is charming and cleverly funny, appealing to both male and female audiences.

For more information on the filmmaker behind Molli and Max in the Future and where you might catch the film in theaters, visit director/writer/producer Michael Lukk Litwak’s official site

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John Dotson

Born and raised in Texas, John Dotson has been a film pundit for over 10 years, writing reviews and entertainment coverage at various online outlets. His favorite thing in the world is discussing movies with others who also love the art form.

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