TiMER (2009)


“Do you think the TiMER actually works, or is it just a self-fulfilling prophecy?”

The Scoop: 2009 R, directed by Jac Schaeffer and starring Emma Caulfield, Michelle Borth, and John Patrick Amedori

Tagline: When will you find the one?

Summary Capsule: Girl seeks her true love with the help of SCIENCE!

Justin’s rating: The final countdown!

Justin’s review: I think it’s safe to say that at this point in my life, I’ve seen enough sappy, syrupy, predictable romantic “comedies” to cover any six of you (and perhaps a good chunk of the seventh).  It’s why I get hazard pay out of this marriage, for I never know if I’ll have to endure another soft pop soundtrack, perfect characters who are miraculously single, and ever-so-delightful misunderstandings.  Happens all the time.

That said, I think I’m going to have to put TiMER on a rarely-used shelf in our house, a shelf reserved for romantic flicks that actually do something a little bit different and original.  By no means a perfect film, TiMER is engrossing nevertheless.

It all stems from its premise, which is as ridiculous as it is genius.  In this alternate world, science has perfected a device that can tell you — to the day — when you’re going to meet your one and only soulmate.  Once you get a TiMER implanted on your wrist, you never have to worry, but instead simply count down the years and months and days until it happens.  Not everyone has a TiMER, but enough do that romance in this world is seriously messed up, because there’s no guesswork whatsoever to it.

Enter Oona (Buffy’s Emma Caulfield), whose own TiMER is simply blank — meaning, her soulmate has yet to get one.  She’s been living in a perpetual limbo for her entire life, which is almost as bad as her stepsister Steph, who has ten years left before she’s going to meet her sweetheart.  Steph deals with the wait by a string of one-night stands, whereas Oona… sulks.  One day, Oona meets Mikey, and they really hit it off — the only hitch is that Mikey already has a Timer, and he’s four months away to true love.

See what I mean about turning the whole romantic cliché on its head?  In most movies, we know (more or less) who’s going to hook up by the end of the film — it’s just a question of how they get there.  In TiMER, we simply don’t know.  The questions and implications of TiMERs as both a boon to society and a silent agony are brought up, and it really messes with your head.  Is it an inescapable form of predestination, to which the entire population should simply give in to?  Does it take the pressure off of romance (like prearranged marriages) or add to the stress of life?  Is it grounds for divorce if a couple gets TiMERs after being wed, only to realize that their soulmate is still out there?  And what if you find someone that you really connect with and even love, but this little device says they’re not it?  (Not to mention the nagging question of how such a device could work, ever, even with the power of SCIENCE.)

TiMER works best when it fiddles with these questions, although less so when it attempts either romance or comedy.  Sure, there are a few sweet moments, and a few chuckle-worthy quotes, but it kind of sashays through the story without being any one thing well.  I do have to say that the ending they chose was actually pretty disappointing — not horrible, but a let down — and I feel like they dropped the ball on a statement that could’ve been more profound.

Still, a romantic comedy actually made me think, and had a good time twisting typical conventions around, and I have to applaud them for trying.  Plus, Emma Caulfield is a cutie, and she deserves to be in more romantic comedies for sure.

If only you could get cable on it…

Groovy Quotes:

Local News Anchor: If a clock could count down to the exact moment you meet your soul mate, would you want to know?

Oona: Why are you whispering.
Steph: I’m not.
Oona: Where are you?
Steph: Church.
Oona: Call me back when you’ve found your underwear.

Oona: Do you think the TiMER actually works, or is it just a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Oona: What time do you get off?
Mikey: What?
Oona: Do you want me to repeat it?
Mikey: Yes, into the loudspeaker, if you don’t mind.
Oona: Believe me when I tell you, this is your one shot, so make it count.
Mikey: Now, now, I get off now…

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • When Harry Met Sally
  • 12:01
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer


    • Also, say it in a Thomas Dolby voice. I always say SCIENCE! in a Thomas Dolby voice. I work with a woman named Ms. Sakamoto, as well, and I’m sure I’m slowly driving her insane.

      About the review, though: Thanks for pointing out this movie, Justin. It is certainly an interesting concept, but you have me a little worried by the tediousness of it. I might check it out on Netflix sometime.

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