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‘Future Man’ is Above-Average Satire
November 14, 2017  | By David Hinckley

The notion of an imperfect superhero has been around for some time, and Hulu’s new Future Man series proves we still have lots of fun new places to explore.

Future Man, which becomes available Tuesday on the streaming service, imagines that a likeable slacker suddenly finds himself tasked with saving the world.

Whoa, dude. Not my skillset.

Josh Futterman (Josh Hutcherson, top) is in his twenties, lives at home, has no girlfriend, and works as a janitor. His one happy place is video games.

Specifically, he ducks into the supply closet at work and plays Biotic Wars, a high-level game no one has ever solved.

Josh beats it, and immediately learns that his reward is a personal visit from the two main characters in the game, Tiger (Eliza Coupe, top) and Wolf (Derek Wilson, left).

Seems Biotic Wars wasn’t just a game. It was a recruiting program set up by a small group of resistance fighters from 2062, led by Tiger.

She and Wolf explain to Josh that humanity teeters on the brink of extinction unless the resistors can find somebody from 2017 who can then go back with them to the 1980s to alter history.

It sounds complicated. Happily, things get sorted out fast, and our trio sets out on a mission that quickly becomes way more bizarre and complicated than they had hoped.  

As a straight superhero story, it would feel dicey. As satire it’s a lot of fun.

We should also note at this point that Future Man was created by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, which means the humor gets frat boy-ish at more than one juncture. For anyone who might think about sitting the whole family down to watch Future Man, just be aware this is standard issue in a Rogen/Goldberg package.

That said, most of the humor is dry and even subtle. The better you speak geek, the more you’ll enjoy it, but the jokes translate to civilians as well.

Mainly, Hutcherson, Coupe, and Wilson play their parts beautifully. Coupe and Wilson never betray the slightest hint they’re in on the gags, and Hutcherson captures the millennial vibe. He’s smarter than he realizes. He just hasn’t activated significant parts of his brain, which his new gig requires him to do.

He finds the process weird. We find it amusing.

Rogen and Goldberg also dive deep into the time-traveling. The culture gap between the 1980s and 2017 looms wide enough – what are cell phones? – and an equivalent gap forms between 2017 and 2062. By 2062, for instance, most of our present food has disappeared, and Wolf goes into an almost rhapsodic trance when he encounters a pickle at a diner.

Tiger and Wolf also don’t understand kissing, since the soon-to-be-extinct race has been neutered.

Nor is Future Man just a string of gags. Tiger and Wolf may be humorless, but they’re dedicated to an important mission, and that quest has an impressive feel. Meanwhile, Josh figures out a few things about himself and life.

And we all come away with new respect for video games.

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