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'Future Man' makes video games real, then everyone pukes

Hulu's upcoming original series seems like a time-traveling sci-fi comedy for gamers, but the laughs are inspired more by gross-out gags than far-out future.


Josh Hutcherson is a janitor/gamer turned humanity's savior in Hulu's "Future Man."

Brandon Hickman/Hulu

More than one hard-core gamer has dreamed that real life could be as action-packed and exhilarating as the title they've spent so much time trying to conquer. 

In the upcoming Hulu sci-fi comedy series "Future Man." that dream comes true for Josh Futterman (see what they did with the name there?), played by Josh Hutcherson of "Hunger Games" fame, But the result is more about raunchy humor than epic action sequences or mind-bending science fiction storylines.

Futterman is a janitor who lives with his parents and spends every spare moment obsessively trying to finish an unbeatable first-person shooter. When he finally becomes the first to defeat the game, two of the characters travel back in time from an apocalyptic future, Terminator- style, to inform Futterman that he has completed a training program that identifies him as the savior of humanity. 

This key scene in the opening episode also sets the tone for the humor that will dominate the series: Futterman greets one of the very excitable and violent visitors from the future by incidentally soiling his pants with X-rated bodily fluids. The gross-out humor continues over the first seven episodes that I was able to preview as Futterman and the two freedom fighters known simply as Tiger (played by Eliza Coupe) and Wolf (Derek Wilson) hop back and forth through time, bumbling attempts to save the future while inciting plenty of vomiting, campy gore and assorted moments of vulgarity along the way.

The humor comes courtesy of executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and creators Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir, the team behind the animated 2016 raunch-fest "Sausage Party." 

The plot of the show almost doesn't matter. But for the record, it's a mash-up of "The Last Starfighter," "Back to the Future" and "Terminator," a fact that the constant references to the films will never let you forget. After the first couple of episodes, the time traveling sci-fi premise and nods to gamer culture fade into the background to make way for the over-the-top physical comedy and abundant pop culture references that Rogen and Goldberg joints (pun intended) are known for.

If you're a nerd looking for a smart sci-fi comedy that speaks to you, "Future Man" is probably going to disappoint. The closest the show comes is with a funny episode that seems almost entirely dedicated to lampooning "Avatar" director James Cameron. But the episode includes just as many jokes about Cameron's earlier 1997 blockbuster "Titanic," letting all the geeks know that we are not necessarily the show's target audience.

Just because "Future Man" doesn't quite deliver the savvy, nerdy laughs of an Edgar Wright production (such as "Shaun of the Dead," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and "The World's End"), that's not to say it isn't often hilarious and worth watching. The relationship that develops between Wolf and the disembodied artificial intelligence that runs James Cameron's smart home is particularly funny, and there's plenty of other digs at tech staples like Apple and Siri that also land. 

If you set your expectations low and can tolerate some gratuitous vomiting and an exploding head every now and then, "Future Man" just might be the temporary escape from the present you're looking for.  All 13 episodes of the show will premiere November 14 on Hulu

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