Welcome to the resistance.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s projects have gotten to be more ambitious and defining than anything most comedians are doing right now. At the same time, these shows and movies are actually good in their attempts at making their comedy stand out. For Future Man, Rogen and Goldberg are veering into science fiction with heavy influences on gaming culture. Lead Josh Hutcherson is a kick as the show’s hero and co-stars Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson play murderous-fish-out-of-water with great aplomb.
Hutcherson’s Josh Futturman is thrust in the middle of a time traveling war after he beats a video game. He’s asked to lead a mission to stop his boss, Kronish (an always welcome Keith David), from creating a cure for herpes. This leads the group on several trips to the past and a subsequent alternate reality where things like “Black Apple” (Apple was founded by a black man) exist. At the same time, Josh’s companions – Coupe’s roguish Tiger and Wilson’s impressionably angry Wolf – remark on the intricacies of modern day life versus their daily struggle to survive. A cube of sugar is their reward for a job well done and they have loud, destructive sex as a way of “powering down.” As you can tell, Future Man is very nonsensical in its execution.
Yet Rogen and Goldberg manage to turn their ideas into a wonderland of explicit amusement. Elation, delight, humor, glee and any other combination of synonymous phrases can be used to describe the pure carnage that occurs over the course of the half hour. Enemies are dispensed of up close with visceral hand to hand combat courtesy of Tiger and Wolf or heads are exploded or bodies are dismembered with no concern for the audience’s stomachs. Fight scenes come often and they’re shot really well. Goldberg and Rogen are joined by a half dozen other set of directors – each one able to capture the show’s mission statement with camera movement.
The writing, though, suffers from set backs thanks to the tropish nature of how Josh speaks. For the first few episodes, Josh spouts one liners more akin to a later Die Hard movie than a modern TV show. Moreover, it’s very crass – matching the sophomoric, havoc-reeking nature of the action. At least the comedian cameos are useful.
Like their movies, Rogen and Goldberg lace episodes with recurring or one off characters except (because the story has a chance to expand) they play a major role. Ron Funches, Awkwafina, Paul Scheer, Haley Joel Osment, Brit Lower and Ed Begley Jr. are just a few names who work opposite Hutcherson, Coupe and Wilson. The character interplay is decidedly upbeat mixed with malicious teasing. With the exception of the Futturman family, no one is entirely nice to anyone else. For other shows, it’d be a bad characteristic but it works here because there’s intent behind it. Awkwafina and Scheer’s game store employees crap on everyone and everything, for instance. Coupe’s Tiger and Wilson’s Wolf are well trained military personnel from the future who find Josh weak.
Should you watch Future Man?
Rogen and Goldberg tapped into a new kind of series that doesn’t adhere to normal conventions. From the outset, Future Man labels itself as a rebel with a cause and it wears that badge with pride.