James (Jonas Chernick) is a geeky science guy who has largely buried himself in work. His parents are dead, he avoids his sister, and he’s too afraid to explore the outer reaches of the friend zone with the beautiful and equally geeky Courtney (Cleopatra Coleman), so there’s really no one to pull his body out from the avalanche of data he’s buried under. But one day an older man appears from out of nowhere, spouting nonsense that James has absolutely no chill for whatsoever, until the man whips out his dick.
Which, to be fair, would probably stop many of us in our tracks. But James does a double take, which under other circumstances might be rude, but in this case convinces him to listen up. Why? Because their penises (peni?) are identical, guys. Ipso facto, the old guy dropping trou is actually also James, but from the future. He didn’t initially recognize him because Future James (FJ) is older of course, and oddly also taller; time travel stretches you out, apparently. But since the penis thing checks out, and is of course a foolproof system for identifying past and future Yous, Present James (PJ) is willing to listen. He just doesn’t like what he hears. Future James (Daniel Stern) has traveled back in time to convince Present James not to invent time travel. To just drop it. Future James is responsible for the biggest scientific breakthrough in the history of literally everything, and has accomplished all of his wildest professional goals. But he’s begging Present James to choose another path. Because in the pursuit of his dream, he sacrificed everything else. Future James is miserable, and wants more for little PJ.
For a movie about time travel, it’s really kind of not about time travel. We’re not going to worry about portals or paradoxes or ripping a new one in the universe. Instead we’re going to debate whether the personal sacrifice required of any ground-breaking innovation is really worth it. And even if we accept that the best and most fulfilling path for James is to abandon his time travel research, does he perhaps owe it to the rest of humanity?
The discovery of two new elements in the periodic table and their development and application for the good of humankind made Marie Curie one of just 4 people to win a Nobel Prize in two different disciplines (chemistry and physics). Radiation therapy has saved the lives of countless cancer patients over the years, and many more have benefited from the x-ray. But Marie Curie paid with her life, dying of radiation poisoning she acquired in her lab. Would a Future Marie Curie have begged her to stop? And should she have listened? If not for her own sake and lifespan, perhaps for her daughter?
The performances are good and the direction uncomplicated. I delight in any film that makes me think, and the script, by Chernick and director Jeremy LaLonde, did just that. It manages not to come off as heavy-handed and remains fairly impartial. We wouldn’t all make the same choice, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right choice for James. I do wonder, though, that if the Future version of You suddenly showed up in your home, how would you know them? Should we all devise a secret code right now, just in case? Not only do many of us not have penises at all, but even those who do might often find theirs to be relatively nondescript. Could you pick it out of a lineup? Whipping it out makes for an awkward first encounter, and is risky enough to make a second encounter a lot less likely. After all, if you’ve traveled all that way THROUGH TIME to deliver an important message, you probably want to get on your good side. But then again, a lot of other validation methods will also come off as creepy, and stalker-ish. There really aren’t a lot of good options for the time traveler. Usually a fair dose of skepticism must be overcome, and then there’s the challenge of authentication. Plus, time travelers always seem to be cutting things pretty close, don’t they? There’s always some urgent need, probably the very fate of the universe hangs in the balance. So go ahead. Work out your secret password now and save your Future Self a lot of trouble should the need arise.