‘The Adam Project’ had a commendable cast at its best, and a subpar storyline at its worst

On March 11, Netflix debuted its latest original movie, ‘The Adam Project.’ Although its cast is among the greatest a Netflix original has ever had, the plot falls short, and overcomplicates what a time travel story should require.


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Jan 8, 2017; Beverly Hills, CA, USA; Ryan Reynolds arrives for the 74th Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton.

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

Any movie that casts Ryan Reynolds immediately raises the bar — so when The Adam Project was announced starring him, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, and Zoe Saldaña, it shook my world.

That excitement, however, was somewhat dampened when the film’s time travel story missed the “wow-factor” I needed from it.

The Adam Project premiered on Netflix on March 11 and tells the story of a little boy named Adam Reed, who just doesn’t fit in. Played by up-and-coming child actor Walker Scobell, Adam is smaller than his classmates and constantly picked on. Meanwhile, he is mourning the loss of his father.

One day, after being suspended from yet another fight, a man appears in his father’s shed — himself from the year 2050.

With Reynolds starring as “Big” Adam, the casting could not have been more perfect. Though Scobell had virtually no acting credentials before landing this role, he’s essentially a mini carbon-copy of Reynolds.

The pair aren’t identical, but the experience is truly like watching Reynolds interact with a younger version of himself. Scobell acts with the same sarcasm, charisma, and wittiness that Reynolds is known for, and no other young actor could have pulled it off the same way — which is high praise for Scobell, who was only 12 when the movie started filming.

Another casting win for the movie was Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner, who play Adam’s parents. As a chick-flick obsessed middle schooler, seeing these two actors play characters in love on screen again brought me right back to my 13 Going on 30 days, and I loved it.

While Ruffalo and Garner don’t get much screen time together, as Ruffalo’s character has recently passed away, it would have been great to see Garner’s character on screen more in general. Garner is portrayed as a grieving mother who just can’t seem to get a handle on her child, or keep the house together, without her husband. Time and time again, Garner has proven her capabilities as an actor, and her skills felt overlooked in this film.

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Additionally, I don’t love the portrayal of time-travel throughout the story. Ruffalo’s character is shown to have just finished inventing time travel before he dies. By 2050, the audience is expected to believe that the entire world revolves around his technology, and that there are schools dedicated to mastering it, which feels like a big jump.

Some of the jargon used in The Adam Project’s version of time travel was also hard to follow. It’s not just that it didn’t make sense, but more that it was pointlessly complicated for what the movie was trying to accomplish, and I found myself occasionally drifting away from what was happening on screen.

The characters often mention that it is dangerous to interact with previous versions of themselves when time traveling, which happens in the movie so many times with seemingly no repercussions, at least not immediately.

I also found some storylines to be all too familiar. Zoe Saldaña’s character sacrifices herself for the sake of a love interest, Ruffalo’s character invents time travel, and several key characters disappear into thin air right at the end of the movie.

It felt like watching a knockoff Marvel movie. Where the story could have been really great, it ended up feeling like a compilation of recycled material.

The Adam Project is far from a bad movie. It had a great cast and an interesting storyline — but is it something I need to see again? Probably not.