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Parents' Guide to

Press Play

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Time-travel romance is sweet but hollow; suggested pot use.

Movie PG-13 2022 85 minutes
Press Play Movie Poster

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Greg Björkman's time travel romance is charming, but too bland to make it one for the ages. It's like Somewhere in Time meets The Butterfly Effect with vibes of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And while making a literal story out of music's power to whisk our memories back to very specific times and places is initially amusing, it wears out its welcome. By tying the plot into mix tapes, those love notes of yore, it creates a nagging issue that's hard to ignore: Cassette tapes were popular in the 1980s and largely phased out by the '90s. The fact that he works at a vinyl record shop called Lost and Found lets us believe that Harrison would have access to a Walkman. But as the film progresses to four years after Harrison is out of the picture, it becomes harder to buy that Laura has easy access to cassette players, too, or that she could dig into a drawer at someone else's house and happen to find one.

Similar quibbles result in an ending that will make film theorists throw their hands up in the air. Time travel plots are always tricky: Moviegoers love them but are quick to criticize if the filmmaker doesn't follow their own rules. The ending of Press Play undercuts both the rules of time travel it establishes and the film's message. Plus, Harrison and Laura have adorable falling in love moments, but we never really get to know them beyond their attraction for one another. Laura is an artist, and Harrison is a surfer. They both like music. That's about it. By leaving us in the dark about what makes Laura and Harrison matter -- and not trusting that viewers could wholly accept the message that we must let go of things we can't control -- Press Play ends as so many of those cassette tapes ultimately did: a tangled mess.

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