Dave Raskin and Adam Le working on building the time machine.
Project Almanac begins as high school nerd and amateur inventor, David (Jonny Weston), revels in his acceptance to top university, MIT—but only for a hot second. David didn’t win the scholarship he depended on. Inspired to take on a new, scholarship-worthy project, he rifles through his late father’s belongings alongside his equally geeky friends, Adam (Allen Evangelista) and Quinn (Sam Lerner), and little sister, Christina (Virginia Gardner). Together they stumble upon David’s father’s best-kept secret: a temporal displacement device. Or in laymen terms: a time travel machine.
Dave, Adam, and Quinn test out a drone Dave has developed for his MIT college application.
The group manages to get the time machine back in working order, but right in the nick of time, Jessie (Sofia Black-D’Elia) enters the scene. Jessie is, of course, the hot, popular girl at school—and David’s secret crush. She insists on joining the action, adding a new dynamic to the time-traveling crew. Realizing the potential for life-altering changes, they set key ground rules. Most important to the plot, they vow to only jump together. They use time travel to solve a number of personal issues—acing an exam, ducking from a bully, winning the lottery—and ultimately to jump back to Lalapollooza for the party of the lifetime. The scenes are all fun and games, and the teens are quite mature given the huge power at their fingertips.
Adam helps Dave check out where he was standing for a video he was recorded in seven years ago.
But it’s not soon after that a lovesick David takes advantage of the tool, and jumps back to make Jessie fall in love with him—without telling anyone else of his travel. Time is delicate, and every minute moment affects the next, as David learns the hard way. His minor change to win Jessie makes the present time wonky, leading to a chain of events that causes hardship and heartbreak for strangers and friends alike. The film builds upon the “butterfly effect” idea of everything being intertwined—hitting a philosophical point to an initially lighthearted film. There’s a danger in betraying your true self and the nature order of the universe, and David now has to set out to right his wrongs.
The group celebrates after a successful journey into the past..
Project Almanac has its ups and downs, but is effective as a teen thriller. The cast involves characters that keep a young audience interested, each carrying their own weight in the film as much as main character, David. Adam and Quinn are quirky and funny, while Christina adds spunk, and Jessie turns out to be a deeper character than just the stereotypically “hot girl.” My main setback with the film is the trendy “found footage” film style, where the shots all mimic a handheld camera of a character. While it enhances a handful of scenes by placing the audience directly in the middle of the action, it oftentimes feels clumsy and unnecessary. But, for a made-for-teenagers film, the new, catchy technique was worth exploring. It’s a decent film for the young crowd, bringing together what that audience wants—a little rambunctiousness, a little romance, a little thought.
Adam and the others greet Dave as they prepare for time travel under the stadium bleachers at school.
Adam helps open the trap door containing the time machine.
Allen Evangelista in his role as Adam Le wears black high top chucks throughout the film. Mostly he wears them with shorts, so they do stick out in the relatively chucks-friendly cinematography. Jessie Pierce is also seen sporting a pair of black high tops in at least one of her scenes, after she joins forces with Dave and his friends. The best chucks scenes are while Adam and Dave are finding the time machine and figuring out how to make it work.
Adam helps Dave load up hydrogen cannisters locked in a school storeroom.
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