The Adam Project falls squarely in Ryan Reynolds’ wheelhouse. It’s a family-friendly, PG-13 time travel action adventure film packed with snark, humor and heart. It doesn’t rise to the level of Back to the Future or E.T.–two classic films to which it pays homage–but The Adam Project is an easy watch with an engaging cast. Reynolds plays Adam Reed, a pilot who travels back in time to stop the invention of time travel which, in the future, poses a fatal threat to the entire planet. For help, he turns to his younger self (Walter Scobell), a decent kid who’s been acting out at school, picking fights with the local bully, and being less than kind to his mom (Jennifer Garner). Young Adam and his mother are both struggling with the loss of their father/husband (Mark Ruffalo) in a car accident about a year earlier. It’s a life-changing event that older Adam is still grappling with decades later.
The time-travel narrative may be far-fetched, but it’s merely a vehicle for a funny and warm relationship movie about fathers and sons, sons and mothers, and the chance to make peace with one’s own history while reshaping the future.
The comedic banter between the Adams is biting and charming. When older Adam crash lands in 2022 and makes himself at home in his childhood home, 12-year-old Adam is barely fazed. He’s mostly just in awe–and relieved–that he got buff! The interactions allow both Adams to recognize they have a chip on their shoulder that needs to be whittled away in order for them to grow into a better person. If only we could all go back in time to share the benefit of perspective and hindsight with our younger self! It’s such a relatable concept even if we aren’t likely to steal a jet and fly through a wormhole to reset the trajectory of humankind. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll roll your eyes.
The Adam Project has lots of ‘six degrees’ connections going on. It reunites Reynolds with his Free Guy director Shawn Levy (who will soon direct Reynolds in Deadpool 3). It reunites Garner and Ruffalo who starred together in the awesome 2004 fantasy romantic comedy 13 Going on 30. Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana (who plays older Adam’s missing wife) are both Avengers vets and co-starred in the 2015 comedy-drama Infinitely Polar Bear; Catherine Keener, who plays supervillain Maya Sorian in The Adam Project, co-starred with Ruffalo in the 2013 music dramedy Begin Again… Such a small cinematic world!
Shawn Levy is adept at generating popcorn pleasures such as Night at the Museum, The Internship, Date Night and Cheaper By the Dozen, and Ryan Reynolds is certainly adept at portraying crowd-pleasing characters. And that’s what you get with The Adam Project— decent cinematic popcorn escapism that is hopeful and warmhearted. I didn’t totally comprehend the time travel rules, motivations for mayhem and bad guys exploding into digital skittles, but overall the creative chemistry and clever dialogue made it worth the watch.
The Adam Project is available now on Netflix.