At the Movies with Alan Gekko: The Adam Project “2022”

MPAA Rating: PG-13/Genre: Sci-Fi Action/Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Catherine Keener, Zoe Saldaña, Alex Mallari Jr./ Runtime: 106 minutes

I think I would like to start this review for The Adam Project off by mentioning some other movie titles. Titles like E.T., Flight of the Navigator, Zathura, Jumanji, and The Goonies. In case you’re wondering what the connection is not only are these all slices of cinema that I loved watching as a kid, but they are also all movies that I loved to watch with my mom be it at home or when I was in the hospital with kidney stones and I was frustrated out of my mind due to the pain of both the stones themselves and because the person who watched the VHS copies before me had failed to rewind them. Jokes aside, I guess the reason I found them so enjoyable and still do is because not only do these movies fill you with a child-like sense of wonder that is just irreplaceable, but also because there is a joy to be found in watching these movies with people you consider to be your family. The reason I bring this up to you dear reader is because film helmer Shawn Levy’s latest slice of cinema that is The Adam Project is one that, like the best time machines be they in literature or cinema, feels very much like a movie you might have watched on those family movie nights of old and found you and those you love enjoying the heck out of whilst also getting a wee bit misty-eyed as well. Indeed not only has Levy and co. managed to sculpt for our viewing pleasure a very engaging slice of cinema that has some terrific sci-fi elements and a fairly engaging cast of characters, but also is one that at its heart provides some truly emotional and necessary truths to both adults and younger adults (or kids if you prefer) on both making amends with your past, but also just how hard it can be for someone to grow up with the overwhelming weight of grief constantly on their mind.

The plot is as follows: The Adam Project gets its riveting saga underway in the far-off year of 2050 where we see a pilot of some skill by the name of Adam Reed take part in the skies above Earth in a fierce dogfight because of….reasons before finally making his escape from his assailants via a wormhole intending to go to the year 2018. Only things don’t exactly go as plan and instead we see our hero with a mouth wind up in the year 2022 where we see a younger Adam is dealing with things a bit more down to Earth like a vicious school bully and the fact that he is lashing out against his loving yet concerned mother in the wake of his father’s tragically untimely passing. Suffice it to say that when the younger Adam finds his future self literally in his house one evening it does come as quite the shock. Of course, it isn’t long before the duo have become a wonderful pair of bickering odd-couple style buddies as older Adam reluctantly reveals that his mission is to save someone who is very important to him who he believes was eliminated in the year 2018 by a woman named Maya Sorian for again reasons I shan’t spoil here, but what I will say is that she has a scheme to try and take over time travel and to do so it will need to embroil the man who invented time travel in the first place. A man by the name of Louis Reed and a man who incidentally just so happens to be our hero’s tragically departed dear ol’ dad. Thus it will up to Adam 1 and Adam 2 to team up to try and find a way to not only reunite with their dad, but also do whatever they can to try and thwart whatever dastardly machinations Sorian has in mind for one’s past, but the other’s future…

Now I think it should be said that there is a typical one word descriptor for slices of cinema that are very much in a similar vein to The Adam Project and that word is “Amblinesque”. For those of you who are unaware this word is one that is meant to signify a group of films that operate very much like throwbacks to a production company run by one Steven Spielberg in the iconic decade of the 80s to say nothing of the type of films that the company helped bring into the world. Movies that, among other attributes, dealt quite a bit with dysfunctional family and/or friend units finding themselves being placed into some quite unusual situations and through those situations learning to become a family or friends again. Perhaps one of the best examples I can give of a film that fits this to a t (and especially because Spielberg himself actually directed the bloody thing) is the sci-fi classic E.T. from 1982. Suffice it to say that as one of the main forces behind the cultural phenomenon that is Stranger Things and the helmer of the criminally underrated 2011 slice of cinema that is Real Steel, I think that film helmer Shawn Levy has more than shown he is qualified to be given a lifetime pass to play in this distinct sandbox should he wish to do so and this slice of cinema is just further proof of that. With that being said, I guess for me what makes this distinct slice of cinema such a worthy addition to the “Amblinesque” cinematic legacy is in the fact that yes there is a fair bit of wonderfully insane sci-fi action present, yes there is some sinister forces at work in this, and yes there is the whole time travel narrative hook present, but above all it is the fractured relationship that the main character has with his mom and his dad that is the beating heart of this slice of cinema to say nothing of its narrative. Thankfully, this slice of cinema is more than aware of that and as a result neither the family drama nor the sci-fi action sequences really (and thankfully) cancel each other out and instead they help to support each other throughout the film’s 106 minute runtime. On top of all that, the film does also do a brilliant job of placing an emotional tone consistently through the narrative whilst also including more than enough of that wonderful Ryan Reynolds wit throughout as well. I mean if you’re going to make a movie with Reynolds as your lead, it should not come as a surprise to learn that you have to incorporate his snarky sense of humor into the proceedings as well. With a film like this however, it really does need to be balanced out since this is a slice of cinema that also revolves around the very emotional concepts of loss of a loved one as well as regret for the choices one made in the past. Thankfully, this slice of cinema is able to give us just that as we see Reynolds sarcastically put down his younger self one minute and the next have a genuinely emotional conversation with Jennifer Garner that revolves around him. Suffice it to say that this is one slice of cinema that proudly and brilliantly displays its heart for all to see and then bravely asks you, the viewer to do the same as they watch a movie that yes will have you on the edge of your seat, but also at certain points desperately trying to hold back tears as well.

Now in terms of casting in this slice of cinema, I honestly felt that this slice of cinema was wonderfully cast and every single person is able to bring their best to this film and the results are truly golden. Indeed in the role of the younger Adam, I will admit that Walker Scobell is an absolute joy in a slice of cinema that is also, remarkably, his motion picture debut even IF it is somewhat hindered to a degree due to the fact that since he is playing the younger version of who Reynolds is playing in this he has to find a way to incorporate the trademark wit Reynolds delightfully brings to seemingly every slice of cinema that he is in nowadays alongside a significant degree of youthful innocence and wonder as well. In all fairness though, his mimicry of Reynolds is actually pretty fanfreakingtastic so I’m not exactly slamming the kid’s performance as much as I’m sadly pointing out that it’ll have to take him being his own character in another slice of cinema to be able to showcase this kid’s wonderful skill as an actor on its own merits. That and yes his adult co-stars may be among some of Hollywood’s best and brightest, but this kid manages to keep up with them so well that he is definitely a talent to keep an eye on. Now as the adult Adam, we get a wonderful performance from Reynolds as he manages to bring yes his trademark sarcastic sense of humor, even though it is nowhere near on the amount heard in something like the Deadpool movies, and then finds it beautifully coupled up with some truly emotional moments with his mom, dear ol’ dad, and even his younger self as well. That and he and Saldana have some truly wonderful romantic chemistry in the sadly limited amount of screen time they have together. Now I love Catherine Keener and I think she has done some wonderful work in the past (she was especially chilling in 2017’s Get Out), and she’s good here as the film’s dogged and ruthless antagonist. At the same time though, this slice of cinema also unfortunately significantly underutilizes her and as such it really makes her work in this very much a mixed bag since yes the performance is great, but we don’t get nearly enough of her in it as we ought to be getting. Now ever since this slice of cinema’s cast was announced, there has been a distinct subsection of movie lovers who were looking forward to this because they love 13 Going on 30 and were excited that movie’s stars Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner were going to be reuniting in this slice of cinema to play Adam’s mom and dad. Suffice it to say that no this dynamic duo don’t get a lot in the way of screen time together, I can still safely say that the chemistry they shared in that film is still very much apparent so to some degree those people should be placated. That and it should come as no surprise to learn, but both Garner and Ruffalo manage to be truly terrific in their respective roles when they are independent of each other be it in the moments that they share with Scobell or the moments that are shared (however few in Garner’s case) with Reynolds, or even with both Scobell and Reynolds as is the case with Ruffalo’s last scene in the movie which I must confess left even me a wee bit misty-eyed.

All in all when it comes to the first time they worked together on the surprisingly terrific 2021 slice of cinema that is Free Guy, I think it is not wrong in the slightest to say that film helmer Shawn Levy and the always delightful and extremely funny Ryan Reynolds found more than just comedy brilliance, but also the beginnings of a truly terrific collaboration that could easily benefit the both of them. As a result, we see that this new dynamic duo didn’t exactly waste much time in finding another slice of cinema to make together as we see that the script for this slice of cinema actually was on these guys’ desks whilst Free Guy was still trying to figure out when in the world it was going to drop in movie theaters. Indeed whereas some collaborators like to take their time in making another movie together much in the vein of Scorsese and DeNiro or DiCaprio, I also feel that jumping quite quickly into another slice of cinema together is just as much a time-honored method of testing a collaboration much like the Levy/Reynolds one. I say that because doing so helps to determine if there is a winning partnership here or if the first movie that was made by the duo was just merely lightning in a bottle. As it is, I am delighted to be able to tell you that this pairing’s second project together has managed to show that this is one pair who can give audiences an entertaining sit with what they manage to cook up. Even more impressive is that with this slice of cinema, both director and main actor show that they have a wonderful understanding of just what subgenre of movie magic they are working in. As a result, we get a slice of sci-fi cinema that not only walks the line between the worlds of childhood and adulthood, but does it with equal parts comedy, heart, and an amazing soundtrack that every time you hear it after watching this slice of cinema don’t be surprised if you see a smile forming on your face. Suffice it to say that out of the slices of cinema that these two talented members of the realm of movie magic have made together to date The Adam Project might be the better film for a family to watch together even if the margin that determines that is extremely narrow though the fact that this slice of cinema seems to be an equal mix of both comedy as well as heartwarming and emotional at some points certainly might have played a part in my decision process on that as well.  Thus it may be an engaging film equipped with some truly emotional and possibly even tear-jerking family pathos, but The Adam Project is more than that. Rather, it is also one slice of cinema that is one that you should definitely check out at least once with your family. Trust me when I say you will not regret it. On a scale of 1-5 I give The Adam Project “2022” a solid 3.5 out of 5.