TiMER 🙃 Movie Review


Written by Tia

It's the concept you've probably noticed once or twice on Tumblr and, if you read fanfiction, it's one you've seen repeatedly (or so I hear). The idea of TiMER (dir. Jac Schaeffer) is that people have the option to have a—who would've guessed it—timer essentially nailed into their wrist, telling them the exact countdown to the day they meet their soulmate. Once they've reached zero, the two people need only look into each others eyes, and an alarm will go off, signaling that they've found one another. It's a silly, fun concept with a lot of potential, but this movie doesn't go the Eternal Sunshine route, turning into something intelligent and emotional—it stays light, tries to do a lot, and succeeds rarely.

I wanted to like this movie. I really did! I liked that it was doing something interesting with science fiction, but in a realistic environment—it's budget sci-fi with a focus on romance and love, which is a combo of everyone's favorite genre, rom-com, and a touch of something a little unique. But it fell short of my hopes so often, I could only feel a bit let down after watching it.

Oona and her timer

The story revolves around uptight Oona O'Leary (Emma Caufield AKA Anya from Buffy) and her obsession with finding her soulmate. She and her more relaxed stepsister, Steph (Michelle Borth AKA Catherine Rollins on Hawaii Five-0), go through their search together, but Steph's timer tells her she won't find her soulmate for many years, and Oona's is still blank—meaning her soulmate has yet to get his timer. As Oona encourages her boyfriends to get timers (and then dumps them when they find out they aren't meant to be), Steph enjoys her many single years to come by filling her time with meaningless hookups. The real journey begins when Oona meets Mikey (John Patrick Amedori) whose timer proves that he isn't her match, but she's so charmed by his terrible haircut and stupid sense of humor that she for some reason decides to give the impossible, doomed relationship a chance.

Oona and Steph

The good:

The movie supports a positive—albeit painfully common—moral: to live freely. It encourages the uptight sister to think less of her future, and the wandering one to be a little more open to love. Of course, the film then proceeds to give the far more interesting sister an unfair ending, just so the main one can make it out okay. Little rude.

I also think the idea itself is still good, even if the film failed to explore it as deeply as it could have. The ending does a good job being smarter than the film as a whole, but the reward isn't completely there because of how badly the story drags and tumbles over itself, trying to make a simple situation feel more complicated than it is. Nevertheless, I won't deny that the ending elevated the overall plot—for me, at least—to become something much more interesting and much better than I thought it was while I was trudging through it.

The sister relationship is the only one in this movie I cared about. I thought the mother was interesting and Steph was very interesting, and their additions to Oona's story made it infinitely more interesting. If only they had been treated with the same love that Oona and gross gross Mikey were given.

Oona and her bland life

The bad:

The directing was... simple. The framing was simple. The storyline was simple. Besides the potentially complex idea of the timer, everything felt under-polished. The shots were rarely compelling and lingered long on actors' performances, even though they weren't all that great. That said, the actors really seemed to be doing their best with what they had—if only they had been given a little more help from camera! It felt like B-movie acting, with C-movie directing.

And then there are the heavy handed, obvious symbols. At one point they got so heavy, the characters jokingly pointed them out (Boiling pot? C'mon). I just wasn't impressed by the sentence level writing. And I don't think I'm being picky or snobbish when I say that. It felt a bit elementary for a romantic comedy for adults. Maybe my problem with the movie is that it went too small—too rom-com and not enough sci-fi. Either way, it wasn't funny enough to save it from being neither of the two big genres it was striving to inhabit.

Oona and Mikey

The ugly:

I could not understand the appeal of Mikey. I just couldn't. He's annoying. Childish. Gross. A little mean, even. After some of the things he said to Oona, I couldn't understand why she'd even be interested in him at all. I couldn't root for them as a couple because I was completely against them as a couple. Ugly of me, for sure, but it made the movie hard to enjoy.

Mikey and Oona again ugh great

The verdict:

If you're looking for something light and easy to watch, which has a bit of sci-fi flavor, and you want to know where the timer idea on Tumblr originated from, and you aren't repulsed by boys who act like middle schoolers but are somehow legally adults: then check out this film! You'll probably like it! If I sound very passive aggressive right now, then let me be straight up aggressive: I really wanted to like this film. I really did. I thought the idea of the timer would make it worth watching, no matter what direction the story went, but I was very turned off by the main couple, and I was very turned off by the childishness of these adult characters, and I was very, very let down.

I had fun while watching the movie, but it soured in my mind as I've thought about it in retrospect. It just wasn't as good as I wanted it to be.

If you're curious, check out the trailer below. You can watch TiMER on Netflix.


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