James vs His Future Self follows Jonas Chernick’s physicist, James, whose obsession with proving time travel is possible pushes him to neglect everything good in his life. The only family he has left in his sister, Meredith and the obvious potential relationship with his friend, and fellow physicist, Courtney.
All of this changes when the mysterious Daniel Stern barges into James’s life. Thanks to solid writing from both director, Jeremy LaLonde and actor/producer Jonas Chernick in the script and LaLonde’s brilliant eye for tempo, you find out that Stern’s “Jimmy” is actually James himself from decades in the future. Jimmy isn’t here to prove to James that his time travel theories are correct. He’s here to convince James that if he keeps going the way he is and creates time travel, he’s going to ruin his life. The thing is, James doesn’t want to listen.
Yes, this is a quirky time travel comedy.
And I hear what you’re saying; yet another comedy that gets more involved with the telling the overly complicated rules that come with time travel than telling an actual funny story.
Fortunately, LaLonde’s film doesn’t fall into that trap. LaLonde and Chernick take a character-driven approach to add just enough detail to their time travel to craft a story with a lot of genuine heart that happens to have time travel.
What Chernick, a veteran actor in the Canadian indie scene, and LaLonde, an accomplished director with a background in comedy wrote isn’t so much a time travel movie as much as it as a movie about understanding what’s important in your life. But its LaLonde’s work with these actors and his eye for tempo really are what pull the themes out of this story and bring them to life.
Not that it’s hard to like a cast as good as this one. Despite the fact that he’s never afraid to play the dork. Chernick has natural confidence about him that plays through his performance to make a genuinely honest and, at times, quite moving. To the point, it’s almost startlingly to see the difference between him and Daniel Stern. If the story doesn’t completely sell you on Stern and Chernick being the same character, these actors will.
Stern plays it a lot more externally. Playing a version of James that has gotten the short end of the stick for decades allows Stern to display his iconic comedic timing. But what you’ll take away the most from him and this movie are the quiet moments.
When Stern brought it down you start to see Chernik’s performance in him to the point that the best parts of the movie aren’t what you expect them to be.
Last seen in Netflix’s In The Shadow of the Moon, Cleopatra Coleman plays James’s friend, fellow physicist, and potential love interest, Courtney. Coleman plays off well with Chernick and is genuinely fun to watch her progression as Courtney is pulled out of the shell by Jimmy’s attempts to get James to enjoy life.
Werewolf series Bitten alumni, Tommie-Amber Pirie plays James’s sister, Meredith. Pirie really gets to shine in this as Meredith as she instills a lot of heart and honesty into the role to the point where you could genuinely believe Chernick and Pirie are actually brother and sister. Rounding out the principal cast is the award-winning, Frances Conroy as James employer, Dr. Rowley. LaLonde smartly uses Conroy sparingly and just want to see more of the driven Dr. Rowley.
This cast and crew have crafted a strong and engaging story and LaLonde does a brilliant job putting all the pieces together despite the climax getting a little too whacky for a film about the value of those everyday moments. James Vs His Future Self is one of the most charming Canadian comedies to be released in recent years and is well worth your time as it is four out of five stars.