“Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars,” said Norman Vincent Peal, author of The Power of Positive Thinking. But then what will you do for food? And where will you live? And how do you get home? Hello Tomorrow! takes retro futurism and looks back at something that never changes: the grift.
What Is Hello Tomorrow! About?
Jack has a pocket full of moon rocks and the patter to sell to the common joe in the street what has only thus far been reserved for the rich and famous, a glorious lunar residential unit.
Through the Brightside company he and his team travel from town to town selling dreams and the promise of a rocket to a new life. Only he thinks it best that they all move on to the next sale before any difficult questions come knocking at their door.
Jack’s shiftiness comes courtesy of Billy Crudup, as backed up by a strong cast including a mouthy, debt riddled Hank Azaria, perpetually put-upon Haneefah Wood, and straight as an arrow (without the point) Dewshane Williams.
The team may be in the dark but it is clear to the audience that what Jack has them selling seems too good to be true.
Hello Tomorrow! has a striking visual style that invokes warm nostalgia. This is an America where 1950s fashion and aesthetics come complete with automatic mail delivery, clunky robot service staff, video phones, and hover cars. The set dressers and costume department give the screen a Jetsons style feast for the eyes.
Such delightful presentation is needed. It masks a very wobbly pacing problem. A show needs to either keep everything from the audience so that you learn just ahead of its characters, or keep us so ahead of the cast that the fun comes through putting them through hell before they catch up.
Hello Tomorrow! Official Trailer
Is Hello Tomorrow! Worth Watching?
Hello Tomorrow! strikes an off-centre balance. It’s obvious from Crudup’s hesitancy and smarm that something is off, even if the details aren’t all there, but it takes so long for his team to unravel the puzzle that by the time they do we’ve been sat at home twiddling our thumbs. The first half of the show therefore becomes an lacklustre exercise in waiting.
As the hover pads begin to come off the plot, Hello Tomorrow! picks up.
A central theme of disappointing fathers plays out predictably, but effectively. Having abandoned his wife and infant boy years ago, Jack recruits his now adult son (Nicholas Podany) to Brightside without revealing his connection. You know it’s going to blow up later, but Podany’s bright boyish charm keeps the promise of future heartache prominent.
Similarly a side plot involving the righteous fury of a scorned housewife (Alison Pill) and her connection with a lonely bureaucrat (Matthew Maher) is sweet, thanks in large to Maher’s gentle stoicism; you will want to lean into your cathode-ray tube and give the poor fella a hug.
Hello Tomorrow! is very much a character-led show, where the plot struggles to decide how much or how little of itself to dance around them.
Buoyed up by cosy performances and a beautiful look it can take you for a merry jaunt up into the atmosphere. When looking back at the dwindling blue marble behind you though, it may be difficult to remember what led you into its rocket in the first place.
Words by Mike Record
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