James vs His Future Self has a depth of feeling unlike most films, yet it is also scientifically interesting without relying on special effects. It resists being something we’ve seen before, and never stops entertaining.
Director Jeremy Lalonde
Screenplay Jeremy Lalonde, Jonas Chernick
Starring Jonas Chernick, Daniel Stern, Cleopatra Coleman, Frances Conroy, Tommie-Amber Pirie, Tara Spencer-Nairn
Watching Home Alone again this Christmas made me realize how much I missed Daniel Stern. He shined in what was an average part in a really average film. He did that a lot in the early 90’s. Probably no one watched Coupe De Ville besides me, yet I bought it in three different mediums. I bought City Slickers in 4. Diner, Breaking Away…not to mention the sequels to the hits. Then he kind of disappeared.
James vs His Future Self shows Stern as a master at mixing comedy and drama interacting with an interesting take on time travel. The story has these elements and saves most of the opportunity of romance for its protagonist, James (Chernick). Opportunity is the key word.
The story finds a younger James on the cusp of discovering the formula for time travel. He takes an Uber type ride and the driver kidnaps him. He then discovers the driver is his future self brought into his timeline as a warning that he is heading to ruin and misery if he chooses to pursue his scientific goal over those goals of his personal life.
These goals include a closer relationship with his sister (Pirie) and a romantic relationship with his friend, Courtney (Coleman). The first of these include reconciling the death of the siblings’ parents, which James is unwilling to do, for reasons that are explained later. The second is a missed opportunity that future James will regret for all time.
The nuance involved with the two James’ is delightfully stomped on by Stern. His brusque demeanor, with the help of the script by Lalonde and Chernick ignores tropes and spills honesty in a refreshing manner. Chernick gives himself the harder task of showing cluelessness beyond all evidence. Young James’ logic gets in the way of being “In The Moment,” and belies the ideas he is after as useless in the grand scheme of life.
Chernick and Lalonde make the most of the premise. They have a nice cast, highlighted by Conroy’s delightfully disconnected Dr. Edna Rowley, Pirie as the spirited younger sister and especially Coleman. Her beauty (featured in the wonderful TV Show The Last Man on Earth) is downplayed, but she still resonates as a catch that should not be allowed to get away.
The best romantic scenes in the story come down to Stern, but I will leave it to you to discover how. James vs His Future Self has a depth of feeling unlike most films, yet it is also scientifically interesting without relying on special effects. It resists being something we’ve seen before, and never stops entertaining. It’s currently free to watch on VUDU, so give it a spin if you can.
(****1/2 out of *****)