Sci-fi rarely gets credit for its ability to cross-pollinate genres. Yet many films in the genre borrow elements from other stories to tell a complete story. It’s rare to see a full-fledged rom-com/sci-fi mashup, but Molli and Max in the Future pulls off the challenge. Directed by Michael Lukk Litwak, the futuristic romance takes advantage of its silly premise. The comedy plays through the roof, allowing Zosia Mamet and Aristotle Athari to show off some of their best work.

Set far off in the future, Molli (Mamet) attempts to obtain a power crystal. However, an errant ship crashes into a meteor, causing Max (Anthari) to crash into her windshield. She drives him around, and the two start talking about relationships. Over the next twelve years, they run into each other at different points in their lives, trying and failing in relationships along the way.

Mamet takes control of the film and gets to showcase her rom-com bonafides. She has to commit to some bizarre bits over the course of the film but never falters. She brings relatability to the role. Mamet channels Meg Ryan-comedic timing in her solo moments and becomes extremely endearing. Yet she also displays her wants and desperation with grace.

Athari also gets to showcase his immense talent. Playing an oddball character that’s part-fish (literally), he shines in his role. Mamet may draw more eyes, but Athari shows he can play the frustrations and challenges of a romantic comedy without overshadowing his scene partners. While aspects of Molli and Max in the Future play to his sketch background, he creates and sustains a fully three-dimensional character.

Litwak plays with some very cool tech and visuals for Molli and Max. The special effects share similarities with the B-movie atmosphere. A giant monster with tentacles leads characters to join a cult. We see giant AR tennis courts and flying cars. Even the cityscape looks incredible. The end of the film provides a behind-the-scenes showcase, and you’ll fall in love with the visuals even harder.

Molli and Max in the Future’s real triumph is how it channels traditional rom-com structure. It actively plays off When Harry Met Sally in structure and nods to other landmark films on the way. A very fun and very silly blending of genres helps pull us in. Unfortunately, it has very little new material, making it somewhat predictable. At other times, the commitment to oddball sci-fi feels too distracting. These scenes become very hard to watch when the bits do not work.

Molli and Max in the Future will scratch the itch of any rom-com fan. It’s both cute and ambitious. For both Mamet and Athari, the roles showcase their comedic timing and willingness to commit to big swings as performers. Litwak should find other interesting directing projects off this film, as he successfully blends genre. Molli and Max should be the perfect date night movie, especially for anyone who loves a little space adventure.

Alan’s Rating: 7/10

What do you think of Molli and Max in the Future? Let us know in the comments below! Watch Molli and Max in the Future at SXSW 2023!

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