Billy Crudup Makes A Strong Sales Pitch, But Apple TV+’s Retro-Future Series Doesn’t Reach the Stars
Feb 17, 2023
“You want the moon? Just say the word, and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down,” is one of the most romantic declarations in movie history. James Stewart‘s George Bailey from “It’s A Wonderful Life” is far from the first figure to promise the impossible. Still, the swoon-worthy scene from that film highlights how the moon has long represented hopes, dreams, and reaching the unobtainable. Apple TV+ already tackled the desirability of going to Earth’s solitary natural satellite in the alternative history drama “For All Mankind.” Now, the streamer adds the eye-catching retro-futuristic “Hello Tomorrow!” to its ever-growing library. But whereas “For All Mankind” sticks closer to reality, “Hello Tomorrow!” takes a giant leap — with mixed results.
READ MORE: ‘Hello Tomorrow!’ Trailer: Apple TV+’s Retro-Future Series Premieres On February 17
Creators and showrunners Amit Bhalla (“Bloodline”) and Lucas Jansen (“Bloodline”) imagine a version of our world that marries a 1950s aesthetic with technological advances like hovercraft cars and robot service industry workers. The series stars Billy Crudup as lunar property salesman Jack Billings, who pitches the Brightside timeshare development with evangelical pluck as he leads a team of misfits and dreamers. Jack’s not just a leader; he’s also a man of many secrets, and a renewed connection to his past soon reveals the shaky ground on which he stands. Belief can only get you so far, and “Hello Tomorrow!” offers a fascinating portrayal of the American Dream that, while intriguing, struggles to maintain momentum over its ten episodes.
Before a deep dive into “Hello Tomorrow!” and its narrative, it must be said that Apple TV+ continues to develop shows with a bold sense of time and place. “I Am Not Okay With This” creator Jonathan Entwistle directs the first five episodes and immediately establishes a sense of whimsy and wonder with a darker underbelly. From the opening scene, this version of Earth is fully realized and rendered, using practical effects to great impact. Suburban neighborhoods, diners, and motels look plucked straight out of midcentury America with a robot twist, adding a “Twilight Zone” quality to everything that follows. Unlike our timeline, the moon in “Hello Tomorrow!” is another residential option, and Jack and his team sell plots and the life-changing opportunities that come with them.
Production designer Maya Sigel ensures every inch of the frame sells the mix of hope and despair that is baked into the foundation of this story. But an early scene in the pilot reveals that these retro-futuristic machines aren’t without their faults — much like the humans who use them. The opening scene shows that machines are taking jobs from their human counterparts, rendering roles obsolete and placing pressure on people to adapt to this employment shift. The analogy to the present regarding cuts to different sectors with computers replacing humans is not subtle (nor is it meant to be), and there are recognizable parallels.
Robots are poor imitations of their human counterparts (though there is a bag that will win viewers over), and their infiltration into the job market symbolizes why living on the moon is so appealing. Or rather, it’s one way Jack taps into the despair that emanates from potential clients. “Sometimes giving folks a new dream to dream can make all the difference” is part of Jack’s central ethos. Rather than something tangible to hold onto, he sells a grand vision to make people’s lives more fulfilling. But, of course, there’s a catch involved.
As a steadfast believer in hope, Jack proves a master at his craft, with Crudup excelling in the character’s speechifying. It’s a talent the actor previously put to good use as the magnetic Stillwater lead singer Russell Hammond in “Almost Famous” and, more recently, the over-exuberant network executive Cory Ellison on “The Morning Show.” Fixing a reassuring smile that spreads from ear to ear is a weapon that Jack deploys regularly, but it’s the moments when his melancholy edges closer to the surface that Crudup really excels. Flashes of fear, insignificance, and even hopelessness challenge his core ethos, but even a good salesman has his bad days. “Hello Tomorrow!” is strongest when it starts to peel back the layers of Jack’s past, belying a strong thread of daddy issues that fuels his ambition.
At every turn, “Hello Tomorrow!” leans into Jack’s magnetism and flawed attributes to work off the competency and shortcomings of his Brightside colleagues. Haneefah Wood, as Shirley, is Jack’s closest confidant and a stabilizing factor when cracks begin to appear. But Shirley has to factor in love interest Eddie (Hank Azaria), who dreams of taking her to the moon but can’t stop gambling. Far from being a doormat, Shirley takes charge. Even though Wood is electrifying in emotionally charged moments with Crudup, the story requires a deeper exploration of her character.
Azaria is solid as the prickly loser Eddie, whose extravagant wide-lapeled suits reveal his lower social standing. Eddie’s suits are but one example of Anna Terrazas‘ jaw-dropping costume works that assign a particular color palette to each character (Wood’s purple and orange is a standout). Retro silhouettes are enhanced by tweaks to collars, accessories, and sleek embellishments, which revel in the time period but also add something new to the familiar.
Wealth still determines power on this version of Earth, but racism doesn’t appear to exist. Within the Brightside sales team, Herb (Dewshane Williams) struggles to be noticed by Jack even though he puts in the hours and effort. He vehemently buys into the version of the American Dream that Jack sells, but even the introduction of his wife Betty (Susan Heyward) doesn’t fully round out who he is beyond his ambition — and his inability to get noticed by his boss.
“Hello Tomorrow!” becomes purposefully vague in its final few episodes to add some mystery and raise the stakes. Unfortunately, that’s to the show’s detriment. It’s frustrating to watch at times because of this, as every time a sliver of truth is revealed it instantly elevates the material. In some ways, the show’s striking aesthetic is part of the smoke and mirrors that make it equally so frustrating and entertaining. When Alison Pill’s frustrated housewife Mrs. Myrtle Mayburn lets loose about wanting to know the truth, it probably shouldn’t feel as relatable to audience members as it does.
Jack’s carefully plotted sales pitch eventually gets unraveled by the arrival of newcomer Joey Shorter (Nicholas Podany). At first, Joey doesn’t appear to have what it takes but soon gets to grips with his salesman role as Jack takes a vested interest in his performance. Joey quickly buys into the ethos Jack sells, as this world also appears to lack religion beyond what is being sold to consumers. In some ways, Jack creates a congregation with his sales pitches, replacing God with the moon. But while his position remains sincere, there are holes in his story. As he says at one point, “it’s kind of funny how good things can be without the truth getting in the way.” There’s strength in Jack’s conviction, but it’s moments with Jacki Weaver as his opinionated mother, Barbara, that the notion of hope as a commodity gets slowly unraveled.
Along with “The Twilight Zone” and “Black Mirror,” there are shades of “Severance” in “Hello Tomorrow!.” And while more answers are given in this series than its Apple TV+ bedfellow, it’s also more hollow sometimes. In this respect, “Hello Tomorrow!” is a visual revelation of one of its trenchant themes: that the depth of its story doesn’t always match its surface. Yes, the show examines recognizable universal themes like optimism and despair, with some stunning performances to ground the more fanciful elements, but it’s ultimately as elusive as the moon is to its earthbound people. “Hello Tomorrow” packs a punch — and looks incredible while doing so — but can’t quite lasso the ideas it wants to convey. The moon here, as always, remains not quite attainable. [B-]
Publisher: Source link
People Are Really, Really Mad About Jewel's National Anthem Performance: "The National Anthem Should Never Be Changed Like This"
I think we've reached peak outrage with this one.View Entire Post › Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.Publisher: Source link
Jun 4, 2023
The Pride Accessories You Need for Everyday Celebrations
The brands featured in this article are partners of NBCUniversal Checkout. E! makes a commission on your purchase. Prices are accurate as of publish time. Items are sold by retailer, not E!. The month of June is often synonymous with…
Jun 3, 2023
Here Are 19 Behind-The-Scenes Moments When Halle Bailey And Jonah Hauer-King's Friendship Restored Faith In Humankind
Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King have proved that their friendship is one of the best things to come out of The Little Mermaid press tour.View Entire Post › Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not…
Jun 3, 2023
Proof Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel Have Officially Ended Their Feud
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is back in the Fast & Furious family. Six years after butting heads with co-star Vin Diesel, the actor confirmed that the two have made up. In fact, the two are in such a better place that Dwayne…
Jun 2, 2023