Film Review: Indie Sci-Fi Thriller “Same Boat”

same boat 2020 film movie poster one sheetIt’s that old story: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy turns out to be a time travelling assassin and the girl is his target. Now what? As it turns out, Same Boat does a surprisingly good job of finding the balance between a kitsch self-aware low budget comedy and an actually engaging and watchable movie. Yes, that reveals some of my bias towards modern indie comedies! Much of what works on screen comes from the performances of the leads who bring a rom-com energy to a film that could have easily been painfully daft and amateur.

James (Chris Roberti, who also directs) and Mot (Julia Schonberg) are part of a squad from the 25th century who travel back in time and kill specific people in an attempt to improve the future. The film doesn’t really spend much time on the many conundrums of traveling back in time to alter things, but that’s an acceptable omission in the pursuit of an engaging story. To be clear, Same Boat is a rom-com masquerading as sci-fi, not vice-versa.

Their assignment is Lilly (Tonya Glanz, who also appeared in the time-travelling TV series Timeless), an attorney who is going to cause trouble later in her life. Meanwhile, she and her rather dorky boyfriend Rob (Evan Kaufman) have just embarked on a romantic cruise from Miami to Cozumel by way of Key West. On their very first night she breaks up with him, which you have to admit is pretty poor timing all around.

Traveling back in time, hapless intern Mot ends up terribly seasick and is incapacitated for a few days in the cabin she’s sharing with her boss James. She’s what an English person would refer to as “gormless” and is definitely somewhat emo comic relief. The end result is that James has a luxury he rarely experiences as a time travelling assassin: Time. While waiting for Mot to recover he wanders the cruise ship and enjoys “the golden age” of fruit, fresh air, water, and other environmental luxuries we all take for granted. He also finds himself spending more and more time with his target, Lilly, and, predictably, falls in love with her.

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Lilly (Tonya Glanz), Mot (Julia Schonberg) and James (Chris Roberti), from “Same Boat”

That’s the basic foursome: James and Lilly have a romantic dalliance on the cruise, including stops in both Key West and Cozumel, and Rob keeps popping up as the sad puppy dog who befriends James without even realizing that it’s James who is now monopolizing Lilly’s attention. And Mot? As she gradually recovers from being seasick, she starts to also realize the problematic situation that has arisen with her boss falling for their target. So do they kill Lilly? Can they go back in time again to erase the romance? Let’s just say that there’s really nothing intellectually challenging about Same Boat and you definitely won’t need to brush off your quantum entanglement theories to decipher the time travel elements.

Rather to my surprise, I quite enjoyed Same Boat, and I’m not even much of a rom-com fan. Lots of wry chuckles, a group of compelling and interesting characters, and engaging comic relief from cruise ship employees Katja (Katie Hartman) and Carlo (David Carl), who pretty much confirm everything we fear about amorous housekeepers on a ship. In the closing credits they claim to have filmed all the cruise ship footage surreptitiously, but I’m not sure that’s accurate given some of their sweeping dining room shots. Regardless, if you’re looking for an amusing distraction, Same Boat might be next up on your dock.

Dad At The Movies Note: This is balanced between PG-13 and R mostly due to language, though there is a moment of full male frontal nudity and a lot of innuendo and sexual humor. Good for an older teen, but younger than that and you (or your child) might well be rather embarrassed as the film proceeds.

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