Press Play

Title: Press Play (2022)
Director: Greg Björkman
Writer: James Bachelor  //  Greg Björkman
Studio: CJ Entertainment  //  The Avenue Entertainment

IMDb Plot: A young woman has a chance to save the love of her life, when she discovers that the mix-tape they made together can transport her back in time.

Joe Says: What started out as a clever time travel movie quickly devolves into a mopey love story with a forgettable soundtrack.

Hey, let’s hear it for first-time directors wanting to take a chance on spinning the standard love story into something unique and memorable. And maybe director Greg Björkman will one day get his opportunity, because Press Play ain’t it. What started out as a clever time travel movie quickly devolves into a mopey first love movie with a mopey soundtrack.   

Press Play Movie Poster

Laura (Clara Rugaard) is a young woman with her profession as an artist ready to skyrocket. She doesn’t want to fall in love, does not have time to fall in love – but fall she does. Enter Harrison (Lewis Pullman, Outer Range; Top Gun: Maverick) a pre-med student working at a record shop (Wait. Record shops still exist?) whose love of music, surfing, and three day chin scruff gets Laura all ga-ga. Fate, however, has other plans and Harrison’s time in the mortal realm is all too short. Before his departure, he bequeaths a tape cassette (how Gen X!) to Laura mixed with songs that they shared together. Laura learns that listening to the tape transports her back in time to that exact moment with Harrison. It doesn’t matter that every song on the mix sounds the same as Laura now plans to circumvent destiny and save Harrison.  

Press Play has a fun set up. Yet it is all a tease. Björkman and co-writer James Bachelor could have played loose and fun with the temporal proceedings and made a Millennial Back To The Future. Laura’s tampering with past events could have gotten all dark like The Butterfly Effect. Alas, none of that happens. Instead Laura cries about her lost love following every time jaunt and listens to terribly-forgettable pop-music. The dialogue, and the situations themselves, become annoyingly repetitive, disconnecting all intrigue and struggle from her quest. Even Danny Glover, whose talents are wasted as the story’s wise counselor, has his fortune cookie idioms promptly ignored.  

(Read: he’s definitely getting too old for this shit.)

Danny Glover, Press Play
Clara Rugaard not listening to Danny Glover in Press Play

However, teen girls and young women yearning for a love that spans time might enjoy Laura’s fresh look and relate to her need to be loved. The story’s Hawaiian setting definitely bolsters the charm. Rugaard and Pullman share some chemistry and Lyrica Okano makes for a good onscreen friend yet there is nothing overly memorable with either the story or especially soundtrack – which was supposed to be the driving impetus of the movie.

Press Play Record Store Movie Review
Record store romance. Clara Rugaard, Lewis Pullman in Press Play

Any Gen X parent watching this alongside their Gen Z offspring should instead present their children with a John Hughes classic whose hip, alt-rock soundtracks have been proven to withstand the test of time.  

A version of this review appears on Cinefied.

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