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Parents' Guide to

James vs. His Future Self

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Well-meaning but crass time-travel comedy has drinking, pot.

Movie NR 2020 94 minutes
James vs. His Future Self Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Sophomoric humor detracts from an otherwise fun concept in Jeremy LaLonde and Chernick's time-travel comedy. They use moviegoers' time-tested fascination with exploring the past and future to drill home an opposing message: Live in the now. But the writers can't get out of their own way, stumbling as they mix a world of scientific brainiacs with immature penis jokes. Looking at the duo's filmography (Sex After Kids, Planning an Orgy in a Small Town, A Swingers Weekend, My Awkward Sexual Adventure -- and many more), it seems inevitable that they would find each other ... and too much to expect that they'd break out of their lowbrow comfort zone. Of course, this is just the kind of humor that appeals to tweens and teens. The good news is that while the characters do crack lots of jokes about genitalia, it's all pretty innocent. Even the movie's "sex" scene fizzles before any real action takes place.

And, really, there's a lot of good stuff in James vs. His Future Self. For starters, the film includes one of the all-time best speeches used to get out of the "friend zone." And, James' best friend/crush, Courtney (Cleopatra Coleman), is a wonderful character: a female scientist who's not a dork, not mousy, and definitely not waiting around for her prince to come. Rather, she's smart, independent, articulate, sure of herself, and uninterested in settling. Additionally, James and Courtney's boss, Dr. Rowley, is portrayed with understated comedic excellence by Frances Conroy. The character is a leader in her field who operates The Rowley Institute, a research facility in her own name (men's names are often emblazoned on movie companies tied to scientific innovations -- like Stark Industries or Oscorp -- but rarely women's), and she displays characteristics of genius without falling into cliché. Even a female cop who appears from time to time projects an element of progressiveness: She's there to help and isn't snarling, but she isn't a dummy either. And, talk about defying stereotypes: You gotta respect a time-travel movie that takes place entirely in the present.

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