A rom-com in space? – Don’t knock it till you see it. while a “when harry met sally“A knock-off set in a futuristic galaxy might be too bold a move for some writer/director Michael Luke LitvakThe feature debut of mostly works the concept. Sure, he’s guilty of recycling an old favorite, setting it against chroma-key, and doing so on the cheap. But why blame him for that? With its lo-fi sensibility and winning charm,”molly and max in the futureremixes a genre classic that also provides a light antidote to current American cinema. And what is the treatment? Litvak takes the “Green Screen Galore” template mcu (and so much more fare) and infuses it with heart and amateur spirit. This first film refuses to be just another extravagantly crafted, commercially calculated CGI-filled mega-movie that amounts to a dead-eye spectacle.
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And given how charming this film is, I wish Litvak had a Miracle Budget for this. As the MCU continues to buckle under its glut of overblown and emotionally underdeveloped products, it’s nice to see a low-budget independent film carrying its weight in a similar filmmaking model (and doing so with far less star power and runtime. “everything together everywhere“). But how does the rom-com, a dead genre now relegated to the back catalog of streaming platforms, fare in a sci-fi backdrop? The answer: it’s the genre’s best bet to bite the dust and bring it to the big screen in full force. Might be payback time. “Mollie & Max” ends up with a familiar plotline, a speedy runtime and shaggy VFX. And while it’s far from perfect, Litvak breathes enough DIY glamor into the film to make it a great choice for anyone. Can keep an eye
mollyzosia mamet) and max (Aristotle Athiras) first collide after Molly accidentally collides with Max with her spaceship while scouring an asteroid field for a magic crystal to fuel her Space Witch aspirations. Max may be safe, but his cruiser is not, so he asks Molly for a ride to City-Planet Megapolis. And so begins their courtship, complete with instant chemistry. A brisk montage shows the pair becoming fast friends as they chat, eat takeout, and visit other planets like Max’s home Oceanus (he’s half-fish-person) before their inevitable parting. Molly’s dream finally comes true: Mobius (Ok), a powerful demi-god, wants her space magic to help with an interdimensional crusade. And so she leaves to pursue her ambitions as a Robot Fighting League pro, leaving Max behind.
Of course, two years later the two cross paths again, and Molly and Max rekindle their friendship as they navigate their way out of their former lives. how come? Well, despite becoming a level-7 space witch, Molly learns that Moebius’s crusade is largely a sex cult, with its tantalizing leader using every trick in the narcissist’s handbook to fuel both his polygamy and superiority complex. upheld. And despite success in the mecha-fighting league and the fame and Glorp soda sponsorship it brings, Max finds that his dream has left him in a prison of stratified ambition. There’s always one more level to reach and more people to please. Add one-way relationship with MAR14/”Maria” (erin drakeChanneling the witty demeanor of a screwball heroine), a sentient robot Max has built to help her climb the fighting ladder, and she’s ready for something new.
And so begins a classic “will they/won’t they” trope, where opposites attract and annoy each other until they realize the one they want is right in front of them. As Molly and Max navigate the dead-end jobs and dismal online dating scene of the future, it’s clear the two will inevitably sync up. But Litvak rounds off its derivative plot with enough quirkiness to keep things fresh. Trump/Thanos Stand-in Turboschmak (Michael Chernus) who wants to rule and destroy the universe all at once. But other kooky bits like Max’s dad working “at a rock ‘n roll factory” or the black hole caused by excessive cheese consumption land far better. Litvak keeps things light-hearted but leans into the story’s confused and tired characters when it counts. It doesn’t all work, but the eclecticism of everything will win over most viewers.
And Mamet and Athiras’ chemistry gives Litvak’s screenplay some extra oomph. Mamet bullseyes whatever zing Litvak gives him, while Athirus complements Molly’s hyper-articulate chattering energy with dry, contained wit. Deep down, Max has always known that he and Molly love each other, but Athiras is shy and plays it slow with patience; billy crystal would be proud. And some scenes, like the one with the “PUBox” that lets the pair with their clones dating each other in a parallel universe to see where it goes, underline the rom-com’s tension and possibility. Spices up the rhythm with sizzling pancakes. While consistently funny, “Molly & Max” is laugh-out-loud often, and the two leads help send an already sharp script over the top when it counts most.
Add a wavering approach to VFX from Litvak and his DP Zach Stoltzfus, and the film gives Marvel’s penchant for green screen a clever twist. “Molly & Max” builds its galaxy with glee, relying on miniature sets, prosthetics and animation in addition to its chroma-key format. It all makes for a spirited combo. But the rough ingenuity on display will remind viewers of earlier sci-fi films and their craft-driven creativity. As movie scenes crib from this sort of thing”tron,Alita: Battle Angel,” And ridley scott‘S “blade RunnerLitvak reminds his audience of when sci-fi used to have a live-in, tactile presence on screen. Much of the film remains of the two actors in front of a chroma-key, with aspect ratio jokes thrown in for kicks. But Litvak transforms the Marvel movie model with a healthy dose of pluck. no budget? No problem. “Molly & Max” feels livelier than most blockbusters out there right now.
It also helps Molly and Max act like real adults in all their contradictions. As the pair orbit each other before aligning at the end of their paths, it’s easy to forget how refreshing it is to see flawed human characters again in a CGI-heavy format, and not the sexless, borderline Instead of teen heroes who exist to make use of superpowers and advanced technology. away from another conflict that could be the end of the world. To be fair, “Molly & Max” is about as sexual as a rom-com gets. But Litvak’s premise at least plays out many of the murky gray areas of adult relationships within the confines of his film, rather than eschewing them. It may be subversive on the surface, but it is a wholesome and humane gesture nonetheless. And in this day and age of movies where cheesy movies like this are becoming a rarity, it’s a radical one too. [C+/B-]