Now Playing: ‘Project Almanac’ strays from the fundamentals

Jackson French

Jackson French

“Project Almanac” starts off with plenty of potential. However, an intriguing teaser at the beginning and an initially realistic approach to the story only makes its eventual fall into mediocrity more disappointing.  

A genius high school student named David Raskin, played by Jonny Weston, finds a video where he, as a teenager, appears at his own seventh birthday party. Heeding this call to adventure, he and his friends build a time machine based on his dad’s old blueprints. For about half an hour, the movie follows a refreshingly logical and entertaining route.

However, the story throws away all its potential when the obligatory romance gets shoehorned in. Once Raskin’s love interest (Sofia Black-D’Elia as Jessie Pierce) becomes a featured part of the story, director Dean Israelite abandons his thoughtful approach to time travel.


“Project Almanac” becomes a story of teenagers using time travel for the most petty of reasons—from getting revenge for a minor transgression to passing a pop quiz. They even go to Lollapalooza to promote Imagine Dragons in an obvious flurry of product placement.

Though the plot has obvious flaws, the misuse of the found footage technique is its most frustrating aspect. The characters film everything, including crimes they commit, lunchroom conversations, classes and even themselves watching videos on the Internet. Half the time, the script doesn’t even bother coming up with a flimsy excuse for why Raskin’s sister is constantly filming what happens. 

This habit of filming everything is solely for the audience’s benefit and makes no sense in the context of the story, which repeatedly takes the viewer out of the experience.

“Project Almanac” might have been good if it had stuck with its clever approach. Instead, a fixation with a shooting method that isn’t appropriate and a boring romance detracts from this movie’s merit.