Friday, May 15, 2020

Sweet, smart, feel-good fun: Jeremy LaLonde/ Jonas Chernick's JAMES VS HIS FUTURE SELF

Can a sci-fi premise, already a tad unbelievable simply by virtue of its being science-fiction, succeed via the strength, intensity and just-plain-earnestness of its performances? Yes: If it has all that plus some very good writing and direction. JAMES VS HIS FUTURE SELF -- a smart, sweet, witty combo of sci-fi, rom-com and important life lessons -- is on my best-of-year list already. It left me in tears, not of sadness but outright delight, due to how well-handled, in every way, it so thoroughly is. Movies that succeed this beautifully often get that reaction from me, and this one managed it in spades.

Sci-fi films, historically, have been replete with life lessons -- though many of the bigger would-be-blockbusters tend to offer those of the apocalyptic, end-of-humanity-in-one-way-or-another sort. The absolute joy of James Vs His Future Self comes via its small-scale, just-one-guy-and-his-problems premise: the eponymous James, played by the film's co-writer and co-star, Jonas Chernick (below, left of another marvelous Canadian movie, My Awkward Sexual Adventure). Oh, the film does have humanity headed for a not-so-nice time, but this is used predominantly for toss-away humor (oh, god -- the end of tomatoes!). What Chernick and director and co-writer Jeremy LeLonde (shown above) make certain we care about most is James and those very few but vital folk who surround him.

These would include BFF and maybe more, played with complete, fall-in-love-with-her charm, sex appeal and beauty by Cleopatra Coleman (above, right) and an actor we just don't see enough of anymore, Daniel Stern (below).

Stern plays the other part of the eponymous title, and he plays it so damned well that the fact that he and Chernick possess completely different faces and body types doesn't matter in the slightest. Both actors are so alert, incisive and in the moment that they carry us along like a river run wild.

Time travel is the sci-fi theme here, and the fact that we've seen this more times than can be counted on fingers and toes matters not one whit. The filmmakers bring such spontaneity and wit, along with charm and surprise, to their mix that I suspect, from first scene onward, you'll be hooked.  (That's Frances Conroy, above, who does a bang-up job with her two or three scenes.)

Four of the five leading characters in the film are physicists; only James' sister, played by Tommie-Amber Pirie, above) is not among the uber-intelligentsia, but she's a nice addition, in any case. This is such a genuinely delightful movie, I can fully understand why, as of now, it's at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

From Gravitas Ventures and running just 95 minutes, James Vs His Future Self has been available on VOD since the beginning of the month. Check your local service provide or go to the usual suspect to find it fast.

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