‘The Adam Project’ Is Like ’13 Going on 30′ For Dads

Ryan Reynolds knows what kind of sappy movie dads really want.

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The Adam Project (L to R) Walker Scobell as Young Adam and Ryan Reynolds as Big Adam. Cr. Doane Gregory/Netflix © 2022

The best thing about the new Netflix time travel buddy comedy The Adam Project is how quickly a little kid named Adam (Walker Scobell) accepts the fact that Ryan Reynolds is, in fact, his older self from the future. In The Adam Project, the sometimes complicated rules of time travel are knocked out pretty quickly, mostly because it’s not that kind of movie. Ahead of the movie dropping on Netflix, Ryan Reynolds chatted with Fatherly very briefly about the movie’s basic tone, and why this film is a love letter to the 1980s.

“I don’t know if the movie was made specifically for kids who grew up in the ’80s,” Reynolds says. “But It was made by people who have a deep fondness and love for those types of movies. But, Shawn Levy, my director, and producer, we both did design the movie to be what you’re describing. It was all those movies that meant so much to us as kids; Back to the Future, Goonies, and ET and, Stand By Me, or Flight of the Navigator.”

Without spoiling the plot of the movie too much, the story of The Adam Project is mostly a huge romp in which the two Adams — adult and child — go on a giant adventure together. The vibe of the movie has that ’80s sci-fi action flavor, but a tenderness, too. Not only does Adam meet his younger self via time travel, but his parents, too. And in this film, his parents are played by Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo.

“All of those movies we loved had this kind of high-concept, wish-fulfillment, action-adventure,” Reynolds says. “But really at the center was something quite emotional and personal and vulnerable. And I think that’s the special sort of recipe those movies had in the ’80s.”

What this amounts to, for The Adam Project is a kind of rom-com in the vein of 13 Going on 30, but with a demographic aimed more at straight guys who grew up in the ’80s. Having Garner and Ruffalo along for the ride helps with this feeling, but that special recipe that Reynolds refers to does make The Adam Project endlessly watchable and charming in the best way. Again, recounting the actual plot will ruin the movie, but one of the best scenes occurs fairly early in the film. When old Adam encounters young Adam, the notion that young Adam believes him is broached very quickly. It’s both unrealistic and very realistic at the same time. As adults, we’d probably have a hard time believing in time travel if it happened in real life, but, children are probably more willing to accept that kind of thing at face value.

Reynolds agrees.

“Yes, I think kids probably do accept stuff like this quicker,” he says. “But it’s also economy on storytelling. I mean, we could have spent an entire act just on that one feature. Instead, we’ve usurped all of that stuff you might go through with small moments. I think kids have a real sense of people. They have a great inner guide. And so, Adam knows there’s something familiar about this guy. The dog takes to him. If that were me, as a kid, I feel like that would tell me there’s something safe here.”

The film, The Adam Project is similar. It’s a cozy movie, content to make some safe choices. That said, there are some tender moments that will remind a lot of former children of their old-school fantasies. As Reynolds says, wish-fulfillment is the name of the game here and this movie pulls that concept off effortlessly in a way few films do. If you’re looking for a movie that is both light and touching, both exciting and fun, you can’t go wrong with a buddy comedy involving time travel and two versions of the same guy.

The Adam Project is streaming now on Netflix.

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