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  Project Almanac Time Enough For Love
Year: 2015
Director: Dean Israelite
Stars: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner, Amy Landecker, Gary Weeks, Gary Grubbs, Michelle DeFraites, Jamila Thompson, Katie Garfield, Patrick Johnson, Andrew Benator, Aaron Marcus, André Nemec, Hillary Harley
Genre: Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: David Raskin (Jonny Weston) has decided to film himself as much as possible on his video camera, initially to capture a clip demonstrating his skills as a budding inventor so he can apply to M.I.T. and study science as a career. His latest creation is a flying machine that can operate through the directions of the user's hands, not needing a remote control at all, and the video goes very well until he opts to take the contraption outside the warehouse space they were shooting in and it gets out of control, crashing into their car. Nevertheless, it's enough for David and his pals, and they send it away, but alas when the college replies, it gives him a place only if he can fund his course mostly by himself...

So what to do about that? How about make a movie? That's what David and company appeared to be doing anyway, for Project Almanac was yet another found footage genre movie, not a comedy or horror for a change, but more science fiction akin to one of the biggest hits in the format, Chronicle which had proven to studios there was life in the old dog yet, and not just for low budget film entrepreneurs seeking an easy hook for their productions. With Michael Bay and MTV combining forces to whip this into shape in less than a year (though it nevertheless sat on the shelf for a while afterwards) you might have expected a shoddy piece of work, but that haphazard quality contributed to the overall effect.

It remained a time travel version of the sort of business many had seen before in The Butterfly Effect (only without the unpleasant child abuse plot), but there was enough novelty here as a story with that conceit can demonstrate. David, his two friends Quinn (Sam Lerner) and Adam (Allen Evangelista), and his sister Christina (Virginia Gardner) join forces when they find the plans and basic tools to create a time machine in their basement, prompted by the discovery of an old video of his seventh birthday party which baffles them by including a fleeting glimpse of David as he is now reflected in a mirror. It appears his late father was a scientist who pioneered time travel for the government, and hid his craft away for reasons best known to himself.

Now, since time travel is an impossibility other than the usual forward motion in the fourth dimension we all experience daily, you shouldn't be expecting a cast iron scientific basis for what the gang conceive of to get that machine up and running, especially since it includes an in your face bit of product placement for a games console (hey, money doesn't grow on trees, even if you're Michael Bay). But set all the absurdity to one side, and though there were serious repercussions in the plot, this still managed to have some fun with their nonsense, with a curious emphasis on the methodology of coping with the creation of not only the actual travel, but also the paradoxes that kept things dramatically interesting. You could still see what had attracted Bay to the premise, of course.

That being the wish fulfilment he had brought to the screen in multi-million dollar enterprises, leaving you in no doubt I Dream of Jeannie was one of his favourite TV shows growing up, or if it wasn't it should have been. The adventurers whip up all sorts of dreams come true, most obviously for the MTV connection a chance to join Imagine Dragons onstage at Lollapalooza as their invention serves them well. But what would wish fulfilment be without its downside? Hence David messes things up when he goes solo to fine tune the present, most obviously his relationship with the newest member of the team, gatecrasher and his major crush Jessie (Sofia Black-D'Elia) who wouldn't you know it, admits she's always admired him from afar but he fumbles their chance at a real connection. Somehow his rectifying exploits end up with the basketball team losing and more alarmingly, a plane crash, but this was a neat enough escalation of what had started personal, though it stayed with that small focus. Nothing groundbreaking, then, but diverting. Who is so pretentious as to make home videos in 2.35:1, though?
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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