Review: Hulu’s sci-fi ‘Future Man’ is a bawdy good time
From mayors to mutants, your new fall TV and streaming obsessions are right here. USA TODAY
The future may be bleak, but at least it hasn’t lost its sense of humor.
Hulu’s Future Man (streaming Tuesday, ★★★ out of four) is a bawdy stew of sci-fi tropes and pop-culture references. It all comes together as a light and giddy comedy that lovingly pokes fun at an often self-serious genre.
The series is produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who collaborated on raunchy films Superbad and This is the End. Their fingerprints are easily spotted in Future Man, which tells the story of an underachieving twentysomething janitor, Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson), who defeats a seemingly unwinnable video game.
When Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson) show up in full warrior gear, Josh discovers they sent the game back in time as a recruitment tool. Tiger and Wolf enlist Josh to help them stop the world from ending, which just happens to involve preventing a scientist from discovering a cure for herpes.
Streaming in November: ‘Longmire, ‘Future Man,’ ‘Marvel’s Runaways,’ ‘Mudbound’
If that sounds a little bit like The Last Starfighter or The Terminator, Future Man will be the first to tell you. It’s a parody that’s in on its own joke, as Josh rattles off the names of sci-fi classics when trying to explain what’s happening to him, or figuring out his next move. The net effect is more amusing than derivative, with far more ejaculation jokes than Back to the Future.
The series smartly balances sci-fi and comedic elements, and uses raunchy humor judiciously. Racy jokes don’t cross the line, and they land because of the spot-on delivery of the three stars, who have great chemistry and timing.
Hutcherson is uniquely suited to the role of Josh (and not just because they share a first name). The series endlessly (and joyously) echoes Hutcherson’s Hunger Games character Peeta, and mocks Josh’s height, his lack of fighting skills and his lack of ambition. The actor’s manic energy is a perfect complement to Coupe and Wilson, who play their dystopian characters deadpan, as when they express a taste for rats.
Tiger is a natural for Coupe’s hard-edged brand of humor. The actress was a standout on ABC’s canceled-too-soon comedy Happy Endings, and the new role feels tailor-made for her deep voice and piercing glares.
The pilot is a bit shaky, but the show quickly finds its groove, and later episodes, with tongue-in-cheek titles like “A Riphole Through Time,” pay homage to sci-fi movies or tropes.
Future Man is an uncomplicated and often hilarious escapist comedy. Josh Futterman may be in over his head, but it’s a lot of fun for the rest of us.