From the first notes of Ian LeFeuvre’s original song “Travel Through,” the theme of James vs. His Future Self is effortlessly established.
Accompanying the science-fiction-inspired font of the opening credits, LeFeuvre’s song brings to mind the Monkees’s “Daydream Believer,” situating James as the daydreaming scientist with lofty aspirations of time travel within the first few minutes of the film.
The brainchild of Jonas Chernick and directed by Jeremy LaLonde, James vs. His Future Self promotes appreciating what we have in the present instead of holding onto the past or being lost in the future.
As Jimmy, James’s older, time travelling self, puts it: “Don’t dwell on the past, don’t dream about the future, just — wherever you are — be all there.”
The film’s plot falls into the Mary Shelley world of most sci-fi stories. Just like Victor Frankenstein, James is dangerously obsessed with his work, isolating himself from those around him. Even Jimmy warns that if James stays the course “You will end up desperately alone, driven insane. You will end up losing everyone that you care about.”
Some of the humour is more on the bro side of the spectrum — mainly the only way to identify Jimmy as, in fact, James’s future self — but it does open up the question of how would you be able to make certain the person claiming to be yourself is just that?
However, the film’s anecdotes about the future are hilariously off-putting. Instead of a fantasy Jetsons world, there’s simply a tomato shortage — “We seriously don’t have ketchup in the future?” James questions.
The comedic back-and-forths work just as well as the serious moments because the film is so perfectly cast.
From the overachieving James played by Chernick, and the equal parts lovable and terrifying Daniel Stern as Jimmy, to the wildly likeable Cleopatra Coleman as Courtney and the comedic relief of James’s sister Meredith played by Tommie-Amber Pirie, each actor immerses themselves into their character.
Even Tara Spencer-Nairn’s brief appearance as Officer Walker is a perfect addition, a nostalgic throwback to her witty Corner Gas days. And Frances Conroy’s performance as the overachieving, walking stereotype of the obsessed academic — Dr. Rowley — is impeccable.
Chernick’s comedic delivery is reminiscent of the Kids in the Hall cast member Kevin McDonald — a strange marriage of playful and serious.
Most importantly, Stern is a treasure. His comedic timing is perfect, easily portraying the lumbering Jimmy as a do-it-yourself crossbow maker, ingeniously constructing a crossbow using darts, a metal pipe and a bicycle seat.
It must also be said that Stern’s range as an actor is arguably underappreciated.
In the most intimate moments shared with James’s love interest, Courtney, Stern genuinely emotes Jimmy’s frustrations over his past decisions.
Called a “sci-fi rom-com” by Chernick, the main love story in the film first appears to be that between James and fellow scientist Courtney.
However, by the end of the movie, a case could be made that the film as romantic comedy is actually focused on the relationship James has with himself — that only when he learns to appreciate how his actions affect himself in the present and in the future do things begin to fall into place for him.
To be released in a time where it feels as though it might be the end of the world, James vs. His Future Self is a much-needed remedy to our present isolation and a warm reminder to appreciate whatever we may hold dear in this moment.
James vs. His Future Self is available on digital and video-on-demand streaming services April 3.