A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Project Almanac is a "found footage" time-travel movie about teens. They mostly use their technology for selfish reasons, but they do establish rules about teamwork; when those rules are broken, a terrible price is paid. The word "s--t" is used a lot, as are "bitch," "hell," and more. There's tension and chases, but not much true violence -- though the time-travel sequences include some loud noises, yelling, and characters seemingly being flung about (they pick themselves up off the ground after a time jump). The teen characters think about sex a lot; there's some kissing, plenty of innuendo, and ogling of female body parts. Two characters have sex and are intimate in a few scenes (i.e. lying in bed together), though nothing sensitive is shown. Product placement is fairly frequent, with mentions of Petco, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; Red Bull and Coke drinks are shown.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
David Raskin (Jonny Weston) is a brilliant teen, an inventor like his late father. He gets into MIT, but his meager scholarship doesn't cover much, so he starts looking through his father's notes for something he can use. David stumbles upon a time machine his father nearly invented; after lots of trial and error, he and his pals finish it up and take it for a spin, using it to pass tests and win the lottery. But when David goes back alone to re-do a failed kiss with the prettiest girl in school (Sofia Black-D'Elia), he creates a ripple affect that must be repaired, and each trip only results in more catastrophe. In the end, drastic steps must be taken.
Is it any good?
The movie fails to go very deep, and it ignores several interesting time-travel possibilities, but it's worth seeing overall. Yet another entry in the "found footage" genre of films, PROJECT ALMANAC -- like so many others -- isn't really helped by the conceit of having its characters filming everything that happens to them. It's fine to film an experiment, but the idea that the characters would also film the construction of batteries -- or continue filming while running for their lives -- is stretching it a bit thin. (The only reason to not film this story in a more traditional manner is that the "found footage" method is supposedly cheaper and thus more profitable.)
Otherwise, this is an entertaining film with likable characters and fun situations. The characters are appealing, and the romance that brews between the two leads is sweet, while the best friends provide some fun comic support. The visual effects are pretty cool, with rattling, damaging time jumps and plenty of floating, flying objects.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Project Almanac's sexual content. How frequently do the teen characters think about sex? How often is it tied to affection or love?
What would you do with the ability to time travel? Do you agree or disagree with what these characters chose?
Why does David choose to make time jumps on his own? Why doesn't he confide in his friends? Why did he break the teamwork pact? Do the consequences seem appropriate?
What's appealing or unappealing about the "found footage" style of movie?
- In theaters: January 30, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: June 9, 2015
- Cast: Jonny Weston, Sam Lerner, Sofia Black-D'Elia
- Director: Dean Israelite
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, High School
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some language and sexual content
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.