'Same Boat': Film Review

Same Boat - Publicity still - H 2020
Dark Star Pictures
A divertingly offbeat treat.

A time-traveling pair of assassins run into complications when following their quarry aboard a cruise ship in Chris Roberti's sci-fi romantic comedy.

The makers of Same Boat clearly knew they had a nearly unclassifiable mashup on their hands. Hence their tagline on the film's advertising: "A Classic Cruise Ship Time Travel Assassination Love Story." The description well serves this entertaining microbudgeted feature that plays like an unlikely romantic comedy variation of The Terminator.

In this frequently witty comedy directed and co-scripted by Chris Roberti, there are actually two hired killers sent from the future, the 29th century to be exact. They are James (Roberti) and his trainee Mott (Julia Schonberg), who are first seen in the late 1990s using a device that resembles a forehead thermometer to assassinate a couple for a crime they have yet to commit … namely creating reality television. (It's a clever way to have us instantly rooting for the killers rather than the victims, for whom no punishment seems too harsh.)

Cut to the present day, when the lethal duo arrives on a cruise ship sailing from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, stopping at Key West in between. Their target is Lilly (Tonya Glanz, who has some experience with time travel, having appeared in multiple episodes of NBC's Timeless), a lawyer, who, we eventually learn, will become involved in a legal process that somehow makes pollution widespread.

Shortly after the ship embarks, Lilly breaks up with her nebbishy boyfriend Rob (Evan Kaufman), in a plot development that smacks more of screenwriting convenience than credibility. Meanwhile, James is left largely on his own, since a seasickness-afflicted Mott has largely confined herself to their cabin. It doesn't take long before James, who finds himself ebullient at such pleasures as temporarily spending time in "the golden age of fruit," becomes smitten with his intended victim, who returns his romantic interest. Needless to say, their burgeoning relationship complicates his mission, as does his newfound friendship with Rob, with neither man aware of their shared connection.

The film's creators claim to have shot their effort surreptitiously while traveling on an actual cruise ship, and there's no particular reason to doubt them. The guerilla-style filmmaking certainly lends an air of verisimilitude to the travelogue-style proceedings, which include brief scenes shot in Cozumel and Key West (there's an excited discussion about the possibility of visiting Ernest Hemingway's house in the latter location).

To say that the film's technical and creative elements are ragged would be an understatement. Not all of the attempted comedy works, especially a lame running gag involving two sex-crazed housekeepers (Katie Hartman, David Carl). Nonetheless, Same Boat exerts a certain charm, thanks to its audacious premise and the appealing performances by the lead performers. Roberti displays an amusingly shaggy demeanor; Glanz appealingly combines sexiness and sassiness; and Schonberg and Kaufman wrest more than a few laughs from their sad-sack roles. The humor is frequently so deadpan that you can't help but laugh; particularly choice is the sequence in which James calls in an elaborate room service breakfast order that seems to take forever. And the climactic plot twists are just clever enough, in that cinematic time-travel story sort of way, to provide a satisfying conclusion.

From its thermometer-like killing devices to its cruise ship setting, Same Boat inevitably features unforeseen and uncomfortable associations to our current troubled times. If you can look past those, however, the film offers enough low-key goofy pleasures to provide an amusing diversion.

Distributor: Dark Star Pictures (Available Tuesday on VOD)
Cast: Chris Roberti, Julia Schonberg, Tonya Glanz, Evan Kaufman, Jeff Seal, David Carl, Katie Hartman, David Bly
Director: Chris Roberti
Screenwriters: Chris Roberti, Josh Itzkowitz
Producer: Josh Itzkowitz
Director of photography: Darin Quan
Editor: Josh Melrod

83 minutes