'The Adam Project' star Jennifer Garner, director talk fostering family connections through film

The Adam Project
Jennifer Garner and Walker Scobell star in "The Adam Project," hitting Netflix on March 11, 2022. |

“The Adam Project” actress Jennifer Garner and director Shawn Levy believe it’s important to elevate the role of parents in entertainment at a time when doing so isn’t trendy — and that belief guides the type of projects they tackle. 

Garner stars alongside Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldaña in “The Adam Project,” which hits Netflix on March 11. The film follows Adam, a time-traveling fighter pilot (Reynolds) who accidentally crash-lands in 2022, stumbling upon his 23-year-old self (Walker Scobell). The two Adams team up with their late father (Ruffalo) on a daring mission to save the future. But along the way, Adam is forced to reckon with his past and make peace with his history.

Garner plays Adam’s mother, Ellie, who desperately loves her son and struggles to parent him following the loss of her husband. In an interview with The Christian Post, the actress shared why it was important for her to be a part of a film that both places a high value on motherhood and helps mothers feel seen and understood.

“I love that this film really does just tackle how hard it is to feel like you're doing a good enough job,” the 49-year-old actress said. “Every mom out there, every mom in the world, wants to do right by their children. And you just sometimes question it, especially when they're adolescents and teenagers, and especially if they're going through something really hard.”

A mother of three herself, Garner said she had “no trouble” tapping into the emotions of her character.

“Adam has just lost his dad and he's angry, and he's getting in trouble at school, and he's acting out,” she said. “And my poor character’s like, ‘Just what am I not doing right?’ And this movie just shows that vulnerability, and because of the trick of time, travel heals that and resolves it in a really satisfying way.”

Reflecting on what she’d tell her younger self given the opportunity, Garner said: “You would hope to buff the edges of times where maybe I wasn't as kind as I could have been, or maybe I acted selfishly or moved through the world too brashly. Those are the moments that I would love to go back and have a redo.”

“The Adam Project” is directed by Levy, whose impressive resume also includes “The Night at the Museum” series, “Cheaper by the Dozen” and "Stranger Things." Though Levy’s latest project highlights Adam’s mother, it’s more visibly about a father-son relationship and the important role fathers play in a child’s life. 

Throughout the film, Adam grapples with his father’s death, struggling with feelings of anger and abandonment. Revisiting his younger years forces him to re-examine some of his behaviors and gives him the chance to reconnect with his father. 

Often, Levy said, the temptation is to run from one’s past “because either we're embarrassed or we cringe at some of those memories.”

“But that kid makes us who we are now,” he said, adding that he and Reynolds talked about the importance of infusing the film with empathy, encouraging viewers to have both empathy for their younger self and their parents. 

“We all go through this crazy arc where we either idolize our parents or resent them, or have anger, and eventually, to have a happy life, you’ve got to make peace with all that and see them as humans — that they are doing the best they could, like we are. A movie that could take those themes and make them literal as a plot, I knew instantly when I heard that idea that that could be a really satisfying journey.”

On the surface, “The Adam Project” is a light-hearted action film, Levy noted that on a deeper level, it’s about reconciliation and forgiveness. The film, he said, “is a time travel movie that is less about saving the world and more about saving oneself.”

“To some extent, kids are born with who they are. But the way they live and what they put into the world is heavily influenced by the way they're parented,” he said. “And it's so easy to calcify into a story about your own past, ‘Oh, well, I came from this hardship. So of course, I messed up,’ or, ‘Oh, well, this happened to me, so that's just the way I am.’ But I don't think people are static. And I think that we might get locked into stories of our history that might not be accurate, that might not be truthful.”

“In this movie, where a grown-up gets to revisit his younger self and the kid's self says, ‘You've got it wrong. You leaned into anger because it's easier than being sad. And somewhere along the way, you forgot the difference.’ This is a really important thing for us all to remember. Because I don't know how to live an open-hearted life if we get locked into resentments and anger.”

“The Adam Project” is not a faith-based film; it’s rated PG-13 for violence, language (including many instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain) and suggestive reference. But its themes of family, forgiveness and having compassion for others hearken back to the kinds of films rarely seen today. 

Levy, a father himself, said he’s always loved movies that “can be for everyone,” adding: “It doesn't mean that I make movies to pontificate or to preach about a certain set of values. But I do believe in the value of family connection, and I make movies that show those connections, and my real goal is to make movies that foster those connections.”

“I like movies and shows that we can watch together, and I know how rare they are,” he said. “I don't know what happened to that genre. But if you show me a movie that I can watch with my daughter and my dad, that can span generations, that's a gift to us as a family because that becomes a shared experience that becomes a shared family memory.”

Already, Levy said he’s been blown away by the reaction he’s received to the film and how it’s already impacting families across the country.

“The most gratifying reactions to 'The Adam Project' are … ‘I watched this with my dad, and I haven't seen my dad cry in a decade.’ Or, ‘I finished this movie, and I called my mom because I never thank her.’ So those kinds of connections to the way we live. Those are valuable. And that's a dream for me, to make movies that entertain but also foster those connections to the way we live.”

“The Adam Project” hits Netflix on March 11.

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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