Saturday, September 11, 2010

Timer (2009) ****

The cool thing about “Timer” is that it doesn’t look like Science-Fiction, but it is. My definition of Sci-Fi is that the writer comes up with a single, central technological reality that might exist in the future, and the story should just unfold naturally from there. In good Sci-Fi, everything that happens should feel like a natural consequence of that technological conceit. Good Science -Fiction is always posing the question, “What would happen if…?” What would happen if aliens landed? What would happen if an alien got lost and some kids found it? What would happen if there were manufactured humans with a limited life-span who weren’t allowed on earth. What if mankind abandoned Earth to live in a giant spaceship while cute little robots cleaned up our Earthly messes? And so on.

The question posed by “Timer” is, “What if you could know years ahead of time the exact moment you were going to meet your One True Love?” Dating would be unnecessary, which would either remove a lot of the pain from life or remove a lot of the excitement, depending on your attitude. If you did date, then it could just be for fun and sex, but every relationship would feel poisoned from the start. This kind of knowledge might free your energies for other pursuits or it could be really depressing. The timer in this movie is a device that gets attached to your wrist sometime after puberty. It analyzes hormones, DNA, etc. and establishes a long-distance link with whomever you are destined to be with, and both timers then count down to the predicted moment of your meeting. This only works if the other person has a timer, too, which most people in the free world do in this movie. Most people are walking around with timers counting down to a point 6 months, a year, maybe 5 years in the future when they will finally meet their True Love. Oona (Emma Caulfield) has had a blank timer since the age of thirteen, which means that her intended, if he (or she) exists, is wandering around out there without a timer. Naturally, she only dates men without timers, and only until she convinces them to get a timer implanted, and each time she is disappointed when her timer doesn’t sync up with theirs. Oona’s desperation is matched only by the despair of her sister Steph (Michelle Borth). Steph’s timer is running, but it says she won’t find true love until some time in her late forties. Her reaction is to pursue a series of one-night stands, and only with men who have timers, since that eliminates any pressure. The obvious narrative outcome here is that Oona finds herself falling for a guy with a timer while Steph breaks her rule and gets interested in a man without one. Hilarity and drama ensue.

We heard about “Timer” due to its excellent reception at the Tribeca Film Festival. It feels like a film festival movie, meaning it doesn’t have big stars in it, and it doesn’t feel dumbed down. It’s a little bit of a chick-flick, but it’s a sci-fi chick-flick, which is a rare animal. The acting is excellent, the babes are hot, and it’s a completely entertaining little romantic dramedy.

4 stars.

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