Project Almanac is a 2015 found footage sci-fi teen thriller. It was directed by Dean Isrealite.
David Raskin, along with his friends and sister, discover the blueprints for a time machine in his basement hidden by his late father. The gang, joined by David's crush Jessie, build the machine and use it for personal gain, only to discover that their actions greatly affect the lives of those around them.
This film contains examples of:
- Applied Phlebotinum: The glass box. It's the "heart" of the time machine, and how it works is never explained. The only thing we know is that it consumes a lot of power and hydrogen to work.
- Common Place Rare: The machine needs hydrogen to work, which they resort to stealing from the school. Technically you can get it by running a current through water, but pressurizing and bottling it would be rather difficult.
- Cover Up Purchase: Almost averted. The gang are buying innocuous electrical accessories, and Christina asks a shop assistant:
- Dumb Blonde: Christina is a downplayed example. She's not unintelligent but she lacks the science smarts of David or Adam or (to a much lesser extent) Quinn and she comes across as less perceptive and witty that Jessie. She is also The Watson of the group meaning if any concept or technology has to be explained, it is mostly done to Christina (Can you guys speak English?").
- For Want of a Nail: The major conflict of the second half of the movie. When they first fired up the machine, it blew the power on the street which caused the school's star basketball player to get run over and get his leg broken. Since he was benched, the team never made it to the championship, and those that would have attended went elsewhere instead. One particular parent was a pilot, who ends up crashing a plane and killing a lot of people as a result. David's frantic attempts to correct this only further makes a mess of things.
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The group ponders about going back in time to kill Hitler, but Adam quickly shoots down the idea by pointing out that none of them can speak German and the time machine can't send them back that far in time.
- Idiot Ball:
- The whole group, filming themselves breaking into their own high school and stealing boxes full of bottled hydrogen.
- Let's Dance: Said by a cocksure Quinn to his chemistry teacher, expecting to walk his presentation - only to be asked about what he didn't study.
- Ms. Fanservice: Both Jessie and Christina. Christina spends the entire Lollapalooza montage running around in a bikini top, while Jessie spends one scene wearing nothing but a towel.
- Mundane Utility: A bunch of high school kids have a working, reusable time machine and settle for doing things like winning the lottery and getting backstage at a concert several months back. They actually discuss better uses for it, including killing Hitler, but they can only get enough power to send themselves back a few months at most.
- Never the Selves Shall Meet: Quinn draws a smiley face on his own neck in the past to test the ripple effect, waking himself up and causing both of them to start shifting in and out of existence. Lucky for him, they manage to drag him away before it becomes permanent. Jessie has this happen to her completely near the end of the film, forcing David to go back to the beginning in an attempt to correct all of it.
- Parents Know Their Children: After David sends himself back to his seventh birthday, he goes into the basement where his father is, and he almost immediately recognizes the intruder as an older version of his son.
- Product Placement: They gut an Xbox 360 for parts to the time machine. A later and far more blatant example is during the first test of the machine. Everything goes in slow motion and it holds on a can of Red Bull spinning in the air.
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: As the group uses the time machine at greater distances, they realize things have changed more than they thought when they suddenly can't remember several major recent events.
- Technology Marches On: In-Universe, Adam is initially confused by a simple VGA cable attached to the time machine, until David drags in an old-school VGA monitor to attach it to. After this they gut an Xbox to bring the device up to modern standards and link it to a smartphone.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: The entire movie begins because David finds a video of his current day self at his seventh birthday party, which leads to him discovering and rebuilding the time machine stored in his father's basement, suggesting a Stable Time Loop. Immediately after doing this, however, the cast wantonly screws with their own timeline to make things more favorable for themselves, clearly demonstrating that time can also be changed at will. What's especially crazy is that the situation the video depicts is David retgoneing himself by destroying the time machine, which he succeeds in doing, meaning the very situation that led them to the time machine originates from a timeline in which said machine does not exist.