TiMER

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

TiMER is a corporation specializing in a matchmaking device. For a nominal monthly fee, the company can equip anyone with a timer that counts down to the point that the customer meets his or her soulmate. After fifteen years of operation, the company has a 98% approval rating.

Oona, a Los Angeles orthodontist, has a blank timer, meaning her soulmate is not equipped with one. Searching for her soulmate, Oona brings her latest timerless boyfriend to get a timer installed, but the timers do not match and they part ways.

Oona expresses doubt in the effectiveness of the TiMER due to the influence of her roommate and stepsister, Steph, who according to her TiMER will not meet her soulmate until she is 43. Steph works as a receptionist at a retirement home by day and as a bartender by night. She has one-night stands with men whose timers are about to expire and are looking for a last random encounter before they meet their soulmate.

With Steph’s encouragement, Oona gravitates toward Mikey, a young grocery store clerk who encourages her to live in the present rather than stress about the future. Mikey’s TiMER only has a few months left, making Oona cautious. Steph meets Dan, a newcomer to Los Angeles, and invites him to her bar intending to introduce him to Oona; when she does not show up because she is with Mikey, Steph and Dan become friends. Steph confesses that she works at a retirement home because no one there has a TiMER. Dan, a widower, does not have a TiMER because he feels he already met his soulmate and does not want to cheapen his marriage. Dan and Steph become attracted to each other.

Oona discovers that Mikey’s TiMER was a fake and they argue, but when Oona realizes she was more herself with him because of the fake TiMER, they reconcile. With Oona’s 30th birthday approaching, she feels pressure from her mother to find her soulmate. Steph and Oona decide to have their TiMERs removed claiming that they are moving on and the results no longer matter.

Steph has hers removed and is visibly relieved. During Oona’s turn, she is told that the removal is irreversible. She decides to go through with it, but her countdown abruptly starts, signifying that her soulmate has received a TiMER, and indicates that she will meet her soulmate the next day. Steph encourages her to remove it anyway, but a conflicted Oona decides to keep it. An angry Steph leaves Oona to think it over.

The next day is Oona and Steph’s birthday, and their parents throw them a surprise party, inviting Mikey and Dan. Steph and Oona, still fighting, arrive separately. Oona seeks out Steph, who is talking with Dan. As she sees Dan her TiMER goes off, and Dan reveals that he purchased a TiMER because he no longer wanted to be alone. Mikey runs off before Oona can talk to him, and Oona finds Steph and Dan arguing. The sisters fight and Oona leaves the party, asking Steph to cool off for a few days so they can really talk about what has happened.

The day after the party, Oona visits Mikey, telling him she had her TiMER removed and that she does not care about the results. Mikey is grateful for the gesture, but insists that the results matter and they say goodbye. The next morning Steph reconciles with Oona. Oona goes for a run at the track later than she usually does, and runs into Dan practicing with his relay team, learning they use the same track, but at different times. They part with the promise of meeting again.

REVIEW:

Well, by now you’ve had time to settle in to the year 2015 and have been waiting patiently for my first review of the year. Ok, probably not, but with requests to start the year off with a film that was a documentary, sci-fi, or a romantic comedy, I scoured the internet for something that was a mix of both. The result was Timer.

What is this about?

In this comedic fantasy, biotechnological implants count down to the moment one is supposed to meet his or her soul mate.

What did I like?

Do you believe in love? Since this film apparently has more of the rom-com feel to it, I probably should have saved it for next month, but oh well, too late now. The theme of love is very strong here, whether it be from Oona coming to terms with the fact that she’s turning 30 and is still single, her mother trying to fix her up with every random guy she comes across, her brother getting his timer, her sister and all of her various love issues, etc., if you’re not a fan of love, then this isn’t the film for you. However, if you do believe in soul mates and whatnot, the overhanging theme of love will fit your tastes and it is obvious that this is aimed with you as the target audience.

Keep it simple. Being an independent film, there isn’t a huge budget, obviously, but they make do and don’t make it look cheap. Sure, the cast is a handful of people and non-speaking extras with the biggest names being Emma Caufield who is best known from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV series) and Desmond Harrington from Dexter (not sure if this was before, during, or after the show). Not exactly big names, right? Also, the timers are nothing more than some kind of plastic thing that a little CGI and make-up makes them look much more futuristic a technologically advanced that they are. Sometimes keeping it simple, though, is the best option. Not exactly the same plot/premise, but in a way it is similar is the film In Time, which dealt with people’s time running out (for their lives, not love). Take a look at that film and see what too much of a budget can do as opposed to the basics.

Concept. I really dig this concept of having a device implanted that will allow you to find your soul mate. As we see from the film, there are drawbacks to getting these things, such as if what if the person you’re with isn’t the one and if you choose to have it removed you can never have it replaced, not to mention the whole thing about the possibility of your soul mate not having a timer.  These drawbacks painted a pro and con picture for us, the audience, about having these things. Part of me wishes this would have gone someplace where the government mandates everyone have one, but I’m content with what they did. Lord knows we’ve seen more than enough films (and real life) where government controls our lives, right?

What didn’t I like?

Indy vibe. Independent films are great…to an extent. I mean, no one starts at the top, right? Take a look at Marc Webb, who directed many indie films before getting a breakout hit with (500) Days of Summer and was then tapped to do a major summer blockbuster (regardless of my personal thoughts on it) The Amazing Spider-Man. So, these films have a place. However, the vibe that one gets from many of these films is just too much to bare. The pretentiousness oozing from them can’t be contained. This film isn’t as bad, but it does have the vibe of not being a major studio picture. As much as I was trying to ignore it, I jus couldn’t.

Timer. As I said before, I like the concept of this film, but the concept of the timer, not so much. I remember in the very first episode of Futurama, Fry was supposed to get implanted with a chip that was to tell him his job for the rest of his life. Obviously this didn’t happen and the whole concept of the chips was scrapped and never mentioned for the rest of the show’s run, but these love timers reminded me of that. How do these little things know who our soul mate is? Who is to say that a person’s soul mate isn’t their best friend rather than the person they’re supposed to be in a relationship with? I don’t know, maybe I’m just too much of a cynical conspiracy theorist, apparently.

Ending. You would think a film like this would have a happy ending, right? Not so fast, my friend! No one has a tragic death or anything in this film, but the circumstances that cause the melancholy ending make you wonder if the director/writer just wanted to mess with the audience. I say that because everything is going along fine, with a few bumps, then once we hit the last act all hell breaks loose and everything that was developed over the course of the film, relationships, family connections, etc., is all gone and we end up with an ambiguous future match.

Final thoughts on TiMER? Well, no one is going to accuse this film of being anything more than average, but given the resources, it does pretty ok for itself. The acting is much better than what you see from films of this nature, but the look of the film reminds me of a TV movie. Despite my issues with the picture, I do recommend it, but only just. This is a sci-fi romantic comedy that is light in all genres.

3 out of 5 stars

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