I’m pretty sure that the best part of the new movie “Project Almanac” was the 10 minutes when I was asleep.
This sci-fi thriller/teen romance mash-up, directed by Dean Israelite, is precisely the kind of crap movie that Hollywood dumps in theaters in January and February. This movie was actually finished in 2013 and has been sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting for the right time for release. There is no right time.
Jonny Weston stars as David Raskin, a nerd genius hoping to get into MIT. He hangs out with his two friends and his sister, who films everything they do. That’s right, it’s one of those movies. The dreaded shaky cam/hand-held camera movies. And yes, I’m warning you now, if those type of films make you sick, this one will too. And that’s before you get to the actual story.
Dave gets into MIT but doesn’t get the scholarship he needs to pay for it. He goes digging around in the attic for inspiration and finds his late-father’s plans for a time machine. He and his buddies (Sam Lerner and Allen Evangelista) build it and along with sis (Amy Landecker) and the necessary love interest Jessie (Sofia Black D’Elia) the group make a pact to only time travel as a team.
The machine is limited in scope so they can’t travel back to the dinosaur era or the distant future. So they use it to improve their grades, win the lottery and spend the day at an outdoor music festival. Teenagers.
As we all know from time travel stories, things start to go wrong. Dave goes back in time to fix things, making things worse. Eventually he decides to go back to his childhood to stop dad from ever dreaming up the cursed machine.
I don’t want to waste much more of your time or mine talking about “Project Almanac.” The characters are slightly likable in the beginning but become intolerable jerks as the story progresses. Name any time travel movie you can think of and it’s probably plowed the same ground and done a better job at it. The love story aspect of it is even more amateur-hour.
The constant shaky-cam doesn’t even make sense in the context of the film. Yes, the moments when Dave’s sister is filming should be handled in that fashion but most of the film isn’t being told from that perspective.