Hey! It’s a teenage, coming of age yarn, with time travel. You know the type. I viewed it on Amazon Prime Video. Details are from Wikipedia. It’s Project Almanac, from 2015. Wikipedia hails it as a “found footage” style, but this is unlike The Blair Witch Project, and Cloverfield, where everybody dies. The production company is listed as MTV Films and Platinum Dunes. The company logo shows it was distributed by Paramount Pictures.
What gives this the found footage look and feel is the home video shooting style. We open with three geeky teens and their science project. David Raskin (Jonny Weston) is in the middle, and Quinn Goldberg (Sam Lerner) and Adam Le (Allen Evangelista) are his buddies. It’s David’s idea to parlay his drone robotics genius into a full MIT scholarship. He demonstrates for a video shot by his sister Christina (Virginia Gardner). We see her from time to time, since she spends most of the movie behind the camera. She’s got great boobs in case Steve wants to watch this.
Too bad. David gets accepted to MIT, but it’s not a full scholarship. He’s going to have to kick in the remaining $40,000. His mother plans to sell the house to raise the money. She is a widow, David’s father was killed in a car crash right after David’s 7th birthday party.
The three science kids wander into the late father’s workshop to sift for any left-over science projects that can be used to leverage additional scholarship money. David comes across a video camera. It’s footage from that last birthday party. He views the celebration. He sees himself in a mirror. It’s as he is now, not as he was ten years ago. The logical conclusion is that David’s father was working on time travel. That would be a great science project to divvy up additional scholarship funds.
The kids get together and go through the late father’s notes. They reconstruct his work.
Success! They invent time travel. Market it? No way. It was developed under the father’s DARPA grant. They figure they can exploit it directly. They team with good looking Jessie Pierce (Sofia Black-D’Elia). David’s hot on her, and he’s been trying to work up to talking to her anyhow.
They make a pact. The will all go back in time together. The experiment with going back farther and staying longer. They go back to help Quinn get past a difficult classroom assignment. See the image below. Quinn has previously muffed a response to a Chemistry question. The plan is for them to all go back so Quinn can substitute for the former Quinn and aced the question. As the former Quinn heads for the chemistry class, Christina rushed out to inform him the class has been canceled. They can’t afford for both copies of Quinn to show up for class.
The teens work their way up. Win the lottery, raking in millions to share. They purchase press passes to a prior Lollapalooza on eBay and go back to the event with unfettered access. A wall at Lollapalooza asks people to write what they want to do before they die. Jessie says she wants to fall in love. David says he wants to go sky diving. A budding romance withers on the vine.
Tragedy. The butterfly effect is manifest, as a chain of events set into motion in the past results in an aviation tragedy.
David goes back alone, and undoes the start of Project Almanac. In class, with David alone knowing what has transpired, he realizes he must talk to Jessie. She has been waiting for him to make his move. Love will bloom for real.
OK, get past time travel and all that, this is supposed to be a home video production. I can appreciate, maybe Christina shooting David and Jessie in the school cafeteria, but who’s taking the live camera footage while the two make out in bed? Dvid goes back in time alone. Who’s shooting the video? Yes, there’s some loss of continuity there.
The director, Dean Israelite, wants to show us what it’s like when you make a time jump. He does it by swirling a bunch of stuff around.