Directed by: Shawn Levy
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Maria Athayde
“The Adam Project” is Netflix’s latest family-friendly sci-fi action-adventure project. This movie also marks the second collaboration between Ryan Reynolds and director Shawn Levy after the 2021 surprisingly fun gaming comedy “Free Guy”. Despite the typical comedy bits we have come to expect from Ryan Reynolds movies, “The Adam Project” balances those against a few more serious moments during its runtime. This combination of comedy and light drama hits the sweet spot as the type of movie experience that is not all-consuming but pleasant enough that you stay engaged.
On the surface, the premise of “The Adam Project” is simple it’s a time travel movie. If you dive a little deeper, the movie is also about grief, overcoming bitterness, and reconciling with family. During the journey, we accompany Adam (Ryan Reynolds) in 2050, as he attempts to travel back in time to confront his father, Louis (Mark Ruffalo), a quantum physicist involved with time travel. In 2050, Adam miscalculates his time jump and ends up in 2022 instead of 2018. During the 2022 timeline, we meet a younger version of Adam (Walker Scobell), who is still reeling from his father’s death and is horrible to his mother Ellie (Jennifer Garner), who is doing the best she can under challenging circumstances. To complete his mission and fix the timeline, Adam (Ryan Reynolds) enlists the help of his younger self (Walker Scobell) as they travel together back to 2018. During the 2018 timeline, Adam reunites with his wife Laura (Zoe Saldaña), a time traveler who disappeared and never made it back to 2050. During this timeline, our Adams get to “confront” their father and explain that his theory for time travel works but that he was betrayed by his business partner Maya (Catherine Keener). The latter in the future has exploited his discovery for more nefarious purposes. I won’t spoil the rest for you, but this is the fundamental premise that guides our adventure.
For older audiences like me, what I appreciated most about this movie were the tiny little nods to movies in the pop culture zeitgeist. One scene between Ruffalo and Garner mirrors the couch scene they shared in “13 Going on 30”. There is also a fight scene that mimics the fighting style of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” In the context of the movie, these scenes work and never seem like a ripoff or too overbearing. In the past five years, there have been a few successful new entries into the time-travel and time-loop genre like “Happy Death Day” and “Palm Springs.” While it is so rare to recapture the magic of time travel and time loop movies of the mid-80s and 90s like “Back to the Future” and “Groundhog Day”; “The Adam Project” is a step in that direction even if it does not live up to its full potential.
“The Adam Project” Trailer