True love on a schedule?

TiMER (2009) is not one of those movies I would have necessarily actively searched out and watched. However, while flipping through Netflix, it caught my attention because I vaguely remembered someone telling me about it a while ago. I was slightly intrigued by the premise of the indie flick (written and directed by Jac Schaeffer). I thought it could possibly end up typically predictable, but I didn’t have particularly high or low expectations for it. I hate to say that I chose TiMER because nothing else looked terribly interesting, but there you have it. Now with that being said, my feelings towards it after the ending sort of mirror my feelings prior to viewing it. Parts of it were typically predictable, and I do still think the plot has some intriguing concepts. To give a general opinion, I think it was a cute romantic comedy with some very frustrating aspects. It’s a film I’m glad I chose. I enjoyed watching it once, I would probably watch it again if I caught it playing on TV, but woudn’t buy on DVD or anything.

So the general plot of this movie has to do with, you guessed it, timers. But what kind of timers exactly? People now have the option of implanting a timer in their arm once they reach the age of 14. This timer begins a countdown once their soul mate gets one as well and zeroes out the midnight before the chance meeting between two soul mates is supposed to occur. The moment a person meets his or her one and only, the two timers go off simultaneously as a signal to the two people. The basic premise is that this device is supposed to take the guesswork out of love and prevent people from wasting their time and making bad relationship decisions. I’ll get into my personal issues with this in just a moment.

First, to provide a little more plot detail, a movie such as this has to have a protagonist who has issues with aforementioned situation. So enter Oona O’Leary (Emma Caulfield). Her timer is persistently blank. Naturally, she is preoccupied with this troubling scenario, until…she meets someone. Now where is the conflict here, you may ask? Mikey Evers (John Patrick Amedori), a significantly younger grocery store worker, has a timer that has already begun a countdown. Aka not syncing with Oona’s. Kind of a moot point then, right? Unless you’re a player in a sci-fi/romcom, in which case you go against your better judgment and begin a semi-relationship anyways. Enter into the equation the fun and outgoing Steph Depaul (Michelle Borth), Oona’s half sister who is doing anything but looking for love (which of course means that she has to unintentionally get embroiled in some form of romantic drama of her own).

So there you have it. TiMER ponders the questions of whether it’s a good idea to “take the guesswork out of love,” whether we have any choice in who we end up with, whether we would change anything if we knew and how knowing or not knowing who our soul mate is can affect our lives. Oh where should I even begin. I admit, I can see where the curiosity would be so great that this would become almost like a social norm.  I even understand the basic idea that you may not make some of the mistakes that you otherwise do. However (and this is a pretty substantial however), then it seems very easy to find yourself in the same predicament as Oona, who is obsessing a tad bit about her blank timer. What if your supposed soul mate never gets one? Then do you just live your life not knowing and staying forever single? Kind of defeats the purpose. Furthermore, say your timer tells you that you will meet your true love in 2, 574 days, or something of that nature. Then for over seven years you won’t date at all? No matter who you meet? You’ll just spend your life (like Oona) waiting? Seems kind of absurd to me. Absurd and well…boring. I guess you could take Steph’s route who ignores her timer. But then if you do that, what’s the point of even having one? I feel like it’s just added stress, and who needs that? I have a tendency to create stress and anxiety on my own. I don’t need a device to do more of the same.

So there’s that. Then comes the other issue that the movie briefly (and not very satisfactorily) explores, which I find to be problematic. If two people are dating, despite the fact that 1. their timers aren’t syncing up, or 2. one of them doesn’t even have a timer, so they either know they’re not technically each others’ soul mates, or don’t know if they are or not, and then one of them meets their supposed real soul mate, or gets a timer and they sync with someone else, what then? I would assume that there are still genuine feelings invested. Do those just suddenly get ignored? Or can people, in a sense, defy their future soul mate and choose someone else? I feel like something like this can end in total unnecessary disaster. Sure, there’s no way not to make mistakes in relationships. But if someone is not right for you, isn’t it better to figure it out on your own instead of just being told? If you’re emotionally invested are you even going to listen to reason? I tend to be pretty unresponsive in such situations, but who knows. Everyone’s different, but it appears that there are just as many ways to get hurt with a timer than without one. As Oona wonders, is the timer real, or is it just a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Overall, I thought TiMER was a cute, interesting mix between romantic comedy and sci-fi drama. It had some stereotypical romcom characters, like Steph (think Kit in Failure to Launch and so on), but others, like Oona’s little brother Jesse, are beyond adorable. What would you do if you suddenly found out, while still in middle school, that you were supposed to meet the person you would spend the rest of your life with in three days? As for the narrative, the film didn’t end exactly the way I thought it would. Good or bad? I’m not sure if I’m necessarily the biggest fan of the conclusion, but I did enjoy the road the movie took getting there.

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