The premise has been done to death – time travel is first exciting and full of hope and promises, only to go awry in the hands of fatal human error. Reminiscent of Marty McFly‘s adventures in Back to the Future, screenwriters Andrew Stark and Jason Pagan use teenagers as the vehicle for time-travel wish fulfillment, in the form of first-person mockumentary narrative technique.
Project Almanac tells the story of five brilliant high school friends who follow a series of clues that leads to the discovery of blueprints for a time machine at MIT-aiming teen, David’s (Jonny Weston) dead father’s basement.
The beauty of using teenagers in this narrative is that their mistakes are more forgivable. The limited scope of their experiences lead them to forget important consequences – such as time-travel paradoxes. Similarly, their wish fulfillment are both shallow and relatable in today’s adolescent culture. Instead of choosing to assassinate Hitler for example, they travel three month’s back in time to attend Lolapalooza, win the lottery, and make things randomly explode.
Despite these faults, Project Almanac tackles social issues essential to every science fiction narrative. Time travel immediately becomes an addiction as David struggles to re-frame and re-write history in order to preserve the best timeline that suits his own, selfish needs, ultimately succumbing to human error despite his seeming brilliance and intelligence.