Opening with ostentatiously cutesy narration in the voice of a cat waiting to be adopted, represented onscreen by what are clearly finger puppets in the form of little cat paws, The Future almost seems to have been made on a dare: How much sincere, cloying quirk can a viewer tolerate? Sophie (writer-director Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater), an unmarried, childless couple in their late 30s, fear that taking cat Paw-Paw into their home will finally conclude their state of protracted adolescence, so they shut off their Internet for a month and embark upon respective final flings—hers involving an affair with an older man and a series of painfully awkward solo dances on YouTube, his centered on unrewarding volunteer work and the literal ability to stop time.
July’s 2005 debut, Me and You and Everyone We Know, managed to find a rewarding balance between affectation and honesty; like Beginners (written and directed by her husband, Mike Mills), it reveled in imaginative play while remaining firmly grounded in the real world. The Future, on the other hand, doubles down on goofiness to severely diminishing returns, even going so far as to have Sophie intermittently pursued by the creeping form of her favorite oversized T-shirt, which eventually swallows her whole. (Or was that one of her crazy dances?) There’s a potentially affecting portrait of generational paralysis here, but it’s buried under far too many layers of twee artifice.