What if you could go back in time to see a legendary band perform before it was famous? That’s the intriguing notion that plays like a blurry afterthought in the earnest, underwhelming dramedy “All in Time.”
The film, set in the lower-tech late-1990s, was inspired by the experiences of onetime music manager Chris Fetchko, who co-wrote and directed with Marina Donahue. It follows Manhattan banker Charlie (Sean Modica) as he quits his soul-sucking job and returns to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to manage his favorite hometown band, the Damnsels.
These Damnsels are soon in distress, though, as their local fan base shrinks and the group’s disillusioned frontman (Josh Burrow) can’t crank out a much-needed new album.
For Charlie, desperate times — made worse by issues with a longtime girlfriend (Vanessa Ray) — lead him to rep a new act: aspiring singer Laura Kelly (composer-vocalist Laura Shay). And it’s at her first show that the “time travel” bit kicks in for real — or rather surreal.
But this half-baked device proves too little, too late and fails to jump start the film’s prosaic narrative. How Charlie’s landlady (Lynn Cohen) fits in adds to the confusion.
The movie rocks, though, whenever the Damnsels (voiced by Fetchko’s former clients, the Badlees) or Shay (also once managed by Fetchko) perform. Only then do we remember the power of music — and movies — to excite.
‘All in Time’
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD