Project Almanac – 2015

Director Dean Israelite
Starring Jonny Weston, Sofia Black D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner, Amy Landecker
Written by Jason Harry Pagan, Andrew Deutschman

It takes a movie like Project Almanac to realize there are better movies out there that you have not watched in a while. It reminds one of films like Into the Storm or Battle Los Angeles, only those films have some people of whom we have heard. There is nothing completely wrong with the film, so much as there is nothing really compelling about it. We get it. Time travel is hard, even if you record everything.

Yep, it’s another first person camera shooter. Instead of having the goofball kid hold the camera, we get to lose the cute-ish younger sister. At least she doesn’t gab a lot, like the goofball.

The premise of the story is David, the son of an inventor who disappears during David’s 7th Birthday, is trying to get into MIT. Of course he is…almost there. So he starts rummaging through Dad’s stuff to look for ideas. His sister comes across a video camera Dad was filming said birthday party with and – who should show up in the background but present day David. This leads David and his friends to go through Dad’s good stuff.

What they find, through a bunch of verbal chaos thrown back and forth, is the makings for a time machine. The team films every step of the building process, eventually co-opting the battery of David’s crush’s hybrid along with its owner. Then they form a band of time travelling buddies, going back and making things good for a while.

David’s ultimate goal is going back and saving his Dad. Before this happens, but after a surprising amount of jumps, things go sideways. At this point, David begins to obsess with making things right, of course he never quite gets there, until the film runs out of ideas and goes right into Donnie Darko territory, if only the happy version.

Of the actors in this film, I have never noticed any of them in other movies that I have seen and even liked. In this way, it is like Cloverfield. Just as that film did not make any stars, I am pretty sure this one won’t either.

The script is a lot of noise, shouting about things that should be theoretical. Then there’s talk about batteries, revenge, getting better grades and making romance work. There are some really good segments, like when they have to try more than one time to get things like the lottery picks right. There are even more moments that will not be remembered and are hard to conjure up even hours after viewing.

My wife liked this film. But I doubt she’ll remember even as much as I do. In the end, it gets the curse of being bland, loud and frantic: just a bunch of stuff that happened written, acted and directed by a bunch of folks I won’t recognize if they work in something I see in the future. Or the past.

(** 1/2 out of *****)

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