With Netflix, it’s hard to know what exactly qualifies as a “hit,” but what’s undeniable is that Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy are proving to be quite the dynamic duo. Free Guy was a bona fide hit, and if they can follow that up with another hit, they can do anything!
|Image courtesy of Netflix|
That follow-up is The Adam Project, a science-fiction comedy all about daddy issues. Well, sort of. In 2022, Adam Reed (Walker Scobell), a twelve-year-old constantly bullied in school, is still dealing with the death of his father only a year before. Ryan Reynolds plays Adam’s future self, who arrives from 2050 with a mission that could either save or destroy the fabric of reality.
The casting is picture perfect. Scobell is a miniature Ryan Reynolds, which makes scenes between the two especially fun. Sure, Reynolds is playing into type, but that’s far from a bad thing — like most of his movies, he is able to make The Adam Project effortlessly charming, and I don’t see this movie working quite as well with anyone else in the lead. Mark Ruffalo plays Adam’s father Louis in a more sizable role than you might expect, and the interactions he has with other characters are a true delight. Jennifer Garner plays Adam’s mother, and Zoe Saldaña is Laura, his girlfriend from the future. Casting name actors can be a crutch, but for The Adam Project it’s a strength.
These days, a “Netflix budget” can mean a lot, and it serves this film quite well. The visual effects are nothing short of stunning, which obviously makes for a better viewing experience, but it also helps the film feel more real, especially with a plot that relies on such high-concept science-fiction. When a nameless, faceless henchman gets killed, they die in a very PG-13 way, but also in a way that makes use of the film’s gorgeous effects — the sci-fi essentially licenses the film to do whatever it wants, and so it uses an easy method to kill the bad guys without any gore that would surely bump it up to an R-rating. As someone very experienced in the realms of PG-13 and R, Ryan Reynolds would be the person to know how to tread that line.
Catherine Keener plays Maya Sorian, the villainous figure attempting to stop Adam’s self-appointed mission. She’s barely developed, but that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of the story — only the acknowledgement of the vague and paper-thin motivations is necessary for the existence of an antagonistic force. Keener’s performance is very campy, and she plays perfectly into the cheerfully absurd family-friendly vibe the movie presents.
The Adam Project is about mothers and fathers and sons, and I would lie if I said it didn’t make me tear up. The emotional writing is intelligent and empathetic, oftentimes going the easy (but effective) heartfelt route. When a zany and sometimes ridiculous sci-fi comedy makes you look into your heart and consider how you might want you future to look like, you know it’s done an excellent job.
All said and done, it’s hard not to watch The Adam Project with a smile on your face. The themes may be surface level, but the action is exciting and when the emotion hits, it packs a punch. Apart, Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy are talented; together, they are unstoppable.
The Adam Project is streaming on Netflix tomorrow, March 11.
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