Originally called Our Name Is Adam and written by T. S. Nowlin (the Maze Runner films) in 2012, it was supposed to star Tom Cruise with Paramount Pictures producing. Instead, Netflix grabbed it in 2020, added three more writers, and here we are today.
Looks like Ryan Reynolds is really cleaning up these days! He’s in so many films, he’s giving Dwayne Johnson and Kevin hart a run for their money. In this latest effort, he plays Adam Reed who is a hot-shot pilot from 2050 who time-jumps into 2022 in a jet (courtesy of some stolen time-tech) after being chased & shot at by some bad guys. Meanwhile, we meet 12-year-old Adam Reed (Walker Scobell in his acting debut) who gets bullied at school for being just as snarky and sarcastic as his adult counterpart. His single mother, Ellie (Jennifer Garner), besides having multiple jobs, is having a rough time, not only coming to grips with the recent death of her husband (Mark Ruffalo), but connecting with her son.
Quicker than you can say “plot device”, future Adam meets his younger self and the fun begins, as the two try to out-snark each other, and let’s just say it’s a draw. The kid may be damn good, but Deadpool’s got the years. Anyway, future Adam has a plan: repair his ship and time-travel back to 2018 to save his dead wife, Laura (Zoe Saldana), who was killed by the evil Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener), CEO of Sorian Inc., who used time travel for her own nefarious deeds. But, surprise! Future Adam’s plans get changed when his wife shows up and tells him a new plan: he must destroy all time travel!
Taking his younger self with him, both Adam’s zip back in time to meet their father and plan to destroy Sorian, Inc., but you know all those plans ain’t gonna be easy, right? You’d think with four writers (Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin) this would be a jumbled mess, but it’s not. Paying homage to past 80’s films with callbacks to Back to the Future, Star Wars, Terminator: Genisys, E.T., and Disney’s The Kid, this fan-fiction screenplay is part goofy, action-packed, self-referential Ready Player One and part heart-warming Hallmark Channel on a good day. You can tell this is gonna be a fun movie when, in the first five minutes, Scobell lands three solid jokes back-to-back. The writing may be full of holes and gag-filled, but doggone it, it’s wicked fun and filled with stupid humor that Reynolds lives for.
Match that with the electric, fast-paced, dazzling camerawork of Shawn Levy (the Night at the Museum franchise, Free Guy) and this movie is crazy good and gives off a cool retro 80’s feel. This film is only as good as the incredible chemistry it exudes from its performers, and that starts with terrific newbie Walker Scobell, an impressive tween that can match Reynolds look for look and sarcastic quip for quip, and does it seamlessly. He almost steals the movie from Reynolds, a tough thing to do when you’re matched with the master of ad-libbing! The bar scene with Garner and Reynolds is touching, and the rapid-fire, 40’s style, rat-a-tat dialogue between Reynolds and Ruffalo is worth the price of Netflix alone.
My only critique, aside from the boundless plot holes and “time-travel” theory, which seems to change with every movie you see (Is it just a fixed point like in BTTF? Is there a multi-verse like in the MCU? How are the timelines changed?), is that I would have liked to see more of Zoe Saldana. Her bad-ass fighter character, Laura Reed, was underused and needed more screen time. The fight scene with her and Reynolds is a highlight, as is all her scenes, as she lights up the screen. This is definitely an old-fashioned Saturday afternoon popcorn movie and worth your time to check out!
**Streaming exclusively on Netflix
Disney’s The Kid (2000)
Not to be confused with other The Kid movie titles, this goofy, silly, and very Disney family-friendly film features Bruce Willis, Lily Tomlin, Chi McBride, and a young Spencer Breslin as a mini version of Willis.
Sandwiched in-between his box office bonanza’s of The Whole Nine Yards and Unbreakable, Willis popped out this Disney fare that, some say, began his downward spiral into his unbankable B-film career. Willis plays Russ Duritz, an L.A. image consultant and fixer (like Showtime’s Ray Donovan) who is abrasive, caustic, and makes Scrooge look nice. His clients include mayors, baseball owners, a bearded rock star (Matthew Perry in a quick cameo), and a boxer (McBride). The only people that can stand him are Amy (Emily Mortimer), his super-cute assistant, and Janet (Tomlin), his whip-smart & wise-ass secretary. But everything changes one day after a mysterious red bi-plane seems to alter Russ’ future.
Without warning, Russ comes into contact with Rusty, his younger 8-year-old self (Breslin) who somehow just appears inside his home! Thinking he’s hallucinating at first, Russ soon realizes that this kid has time-traveled back to his present, but why? As the two first don’t get along together, but soon they have various adventures, get lunch at a disappearing diner (look for Melissa McCarthy as a waitress–her first role!), argue about stuff, and eventually bond over who loves Amy or not. Russ even teaches the kid how to box, which comes in handy when the pair are suddenly transported back to 1968, so that young Rusty can take on some school bullies. Oh, and don’t forget a forced second-act break-up with Amy that’ll lead to a tacked-on final reconciliation.
Written by the late Audrey Wells (George of the Jungle, Under the Tuscan Sun), this family-friendly film has moments of comedy gold mixed with schlocky sitcom-y schmaltz, which is usually when Russ & Rusty are jabbering at each other. Sorta like A Christmas Carol mixed with Little, it would have been better had this remained just a movie about Russ, his acerbic life, his interaction with his various clients and secretary, and his eventual redemption with Amy. Aside from all the plot holes, Audrey’s writing soars when it’s just the adults talking, but drags when Rusty starts his annoying yapping and complaining.
Willis said he wanted to do a comedy and this certainly shows off his comedic chops, but his chemistry with young Breslin isn’t the best. The good stuff comes from Mortimer as Russ’ love interest and Tomlin who steals every single scene she’s in with her perfect one-liners. I’m still trying to figure out if they were ad-libbed or not; it sure seemed like it. All in all, this screwball comedy wasn’t the worst (49% on Rotten Tomatoes? Really?), as it has its share of simple, fun, G-rated family entertainment, something the whole family can watch and enjoy.