We live in an era of films where the comedies attempt to invoke an emotional attachment between its protagonist and the audience. It’s come to a point where a majority of comedies being released have just as much of a dramatic undertone as the overall comedic theme. Whether or not such a connection is successful, however, varies from film to film.
Time Expired, interestingly enough, chooses not to focus on this, despite its premise.
Time Expired is about Randall (Eric Starkey), a dedicated parking enforcement officer who finds relief in the simple joys in life. However, when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness, his friends and family take it upon themselves to decide what’s best for him, despite his intentions to keep things the way they are. As the lives of those around him change, Randall makes an attempt to adapt.
The film, on paper, is a comedy circling around a very dramatic premise. But like I mentioned above, it practically avoids discussing Randall’s terminal illness, instead focusing on the actions and events that arise from the discovery. While I enjoyed the fact that the focus wasn’t surrounded by this illness, it would have been nice to see more of an emotional reaction to the situation.
This might be due to the characters themselves fitting into these caricatures or archetypal/stereotypical roles: Randall, as already stated, is a stoic, simple man; Randall’s mother, Corinna (Rebekah Turner), is the overbearing matriarch; Randall’s girlfriend, Sasha (Carrie Slaughter), begins the film as a sheepish, loving girlfriend, but ends up being a biological clock-fighting nymphomaniac; and Randall’s best friend, Jay (Topher Owen), is the over-caffeinated man-child. They all feel like characters you’ve seen in other films, especially Jay and his exaggeration of a Jack Black character (yes, an exaggeration of an exaggeration).
The plot, simply put, has an amazing premise, but there were a lot of missed opportunities that could be chalked up to simply wanting to play it safe. Outside of the stereotypical major (and minor) characters, some of the subplots were left unanswered or too open, specifically the one involving Brenda (Laura Spencer), a local sandwich maker and Randall’s implied crush. It would have been nice to see more risks taken.
Time Expired is a very low-budget, DIY film, yet you wouldn’t be able to tell with its photography and sound editing. Sure, there are moments where scenes could be focused better or there might be too much background noise, but the production team dealt with their limited means greatly. Lawrence, writer/producer Rachel Tucker, and cinematographer Jason Musco have the foundations of a great team.
Time Expired is a simple film with simple characters and a simple plot based on a not-so-simple premise. It would have been much more entertaining had there been more risks. But, what we’re left with is a film that’s okay with playing it safe. There are inklings of promise, but they mostly come from the post-production side. While it wouldn’t hurt to check the film out (especially since it’s being streamed online as part of a freemium model), it’d be more of a motion of support for the filmmakers.