A model looking dude they try to pass off as a geek (Jonny Weston) and two actual geek looking chaps (Sam Lerner and Allen Evangelista) build a time machine. They get two babes (Sofia Black-D'Elia and Virgina Gardner) to tag along, go back in time and have a heap of fun until.... well... the fun stops.
I was dragged kicking and punching to go see PROJECT ALMANAC
as I wanted NOTHING to do with it. The film has been on the shelf for a while (its initial release date was February 5, 2014), it’s presently dumping month (and I've already seen enough shitty movies
to last me the year) and I try to duck anything with “MTV” tagged to its ass. I’m a grown man after all, or so I pretend to be. Alas, I wound up in that theater none the less and maybe it’s because my expectations were down in the gutter along with my credit but it wasn’t the complete disaster I thought it would be.
First thing that popped in my melon while watching this one was; Why the hell didn’t they just shoot it in a conventional way as opposed to found footage?
Other than coming off as a visual copy of the superior CHRONICLE
, I truly didn’t get why they took the found footage angle here as it added little to the proceedings. And once again – NOBODY shoots their lives 24/7 like they did here. NOBODY! At least this one found an excuse to do so early on - respect on that. With that smacked out of the way, PROJECT ALMANAC benefited from a cool initial premise, a likeable young cast and a "dream situation" that we can all relate to: If we could travel in time, what would we do?
And the film answered that question for its leads adequately; winning the lottery, partying at a legendary Lollapalooza concert and the list goes on! I had fun watching these kids have fun (reminded me of my twenties - good times) and for the first 40 minutes or so, I found Project Almanac to be pretty engaging. I couldn’t wait to see where it would go once the other shoe dropped i.e. when shit went wrong and dark.
It surely helped that the cast of unknowns (well to me anyways) was mucho credible, had solid chemistry between each other and sold the tomfoolery (love that word) at hand. Jonny Weston gave an intense and sympathetic show as the “leader” of the pack, Sofia Black-D'Elia was charming and sexy as the love interest, Allen Evangelista did what he had to do well (the poor basterd had the lesser developped role) while Sam Lerner brought in the laughs. Personally; Virginia Gardner as our hero’s younger sister stole the show in two ways 1- She had the best comeback line in the entire film, one that made me laugh out-loud. I won’t spoil it here, just look out for her “bully revenge” scene. 2- Girl looked hotter than hell on a hot day and the "all over her" camera knew it! Damn! Add to that some decent special effects, cool time travel film references ( Bill and Ted, Timecop and more), a potent love story that hit the spot, solid dialogue and an easy pace (for the most part) and you get a decent time waster – nothing to mow down pedestrians over, but something to watch at home when you gort a gap to fill.
What held PROJECT ALMANAC back from being a better movie is that it never lived up to its set up. The flick build and build and build and I couldn’t wait to see how it would all go sour. And when it did via its weak tit second plot point, it was with a whimper as opposed to a scream. Now I wasn’t expecting some THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT
level nasty shite to go down, but something with a pinch of bite would have been swell. This was too neutered. And that resulted in a meh last act; where the film went was underwhelming and the way it was all resolved felt rushed and half cocked. Furthermore, there was at least one internal logic problem in terms of the time travel schtuff, one dumb character move to serve the plot they tried to sell me and that I didn't totally buy and some pacing issue during the “never ending” concert scene. Nothing to choke a chicken over but it needed to be body slammed.
On the whole though, PROJECT ALMANAC was not the cinematic abortion I thought it would be and I was surprised to be amused by it. With a more ambitious and developed script, it could have been great instead of just "okay." Your move creep!
We get hot girls in bikinis, the camera fawning over Sofia Black-D'Elia's legs and Virginia Gardner showing off her cleavage in a loose top and in a bikini. The ladies and gay dudes get some shirtless guys... I think! Am pretty sure, not sure... I don't remember.
PROJECT ALMANAC made for a a passable sit down that was much better than I thought it would be. They had most of the ingredients needed to deliver a fun romp: a cool story, an affable cast, some laughs, minor tension, groovy VFX, sexy babes and zany turns of events. Minor boo-boos aside, the big missing chunks here were a second plot point with more weight to it and a fully developed last act aka the payoff was lackluster. My gut tells me this one will kill it at the box office during its opening weekend though. Teens will flock to this shite! Everybody else though, I recommend you wait for VOD or Netflix.