It’s that old story: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy turns out to be from the future and assigned to assassinate girl for the betterment of mankind. 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 romantic comedy 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 travels back in time and kills people to improve the future. The film doesn’t really spend much time on the well-known conundrums of traveling back in time to alter things, but that’s an acceptable omission in the pursuit of an engaging story. Same Boat is a rom-com masquerading as a sci-fi, not vice-versa.
Their assignment is Lilly (Tonya Glanz, who also appeared in the time-traveling 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. And on the 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 with a terrible case of seasickness and is incapacitated for a few days 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. But James has a luxury he rarely experiences as a time-traveling assassin: Time. So he wanders the cruise ship, enjoys “the golden age” of fruit, fresh air, water, and other environmental luxuries we all take for granted. He also starts to spend time with his target, Lilly, and, predictably, falls in love with her.
That’s the basic foursome: James and Lilly have a romantic time on the cruise including stops in both Key West and Cozumel, 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 confirms 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.