An awkward physics genius and a hot ex-Catholic sorority girl wake up after blacking out to discover they missed the evacuation of Earth. They must figure out how to work together in order to solve the recently entangled multi-verse and ultimately try to save humanity from AI.
None of this made any sense, but I liked it! Quantum mechanics, particle physics, relativity, multiverses, the theory of everything…at times my head was swimming through all of the science-y terms that drive the narrative of Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime, but I was frequently LOL’ing at this sci-fi. Starring Jeff Kenny, Lexie Lowell, and a cheeky blowup doll, this movie is a mind-tripping indie film from Jonathan Baker and APL Films.
After two college undergrads — Toby (Jeff Kenny) and Kara (Lexie Lowell) — wake up from what appears to be a fun night together, Toby receives an ominous phone call from his father who tells him that he must leave everything behind and evacuate to the family rendezvous point in Pasadena. Kara brings up the possibility that she might be pregnant after their explosive hookup, and though strangers, Toby invites Kara to come with him. It seems that everyone in the world is gone except for a mysterious agent (Jonathan Baker), who Toby calls “the postalman”, and who seems to be trying to hunt them down on their trip from Malibu, CA to the Pasadena. As they fervently try to lose their pursuer, Toby, an OCD physics major, tries repeatedly to explain to Kara, a general studies major, his theories about multiverses and how he believes he solved not only the theory of everything but of god itself. On one side with the theory of multiverses, life seems pointless and meaningless since there are so many different realities, and then there is the side of super-symmetry, where everything in the universe works in perfect harmony as if specified by some higher order (god, who created it in intelligent design). His studies on the Higgs boson particle — or the “God particle” — have brought him to the conclusion that quantum mechanics and religion might not be of different worlds as we once thought.
So many references in this movie, where does one even start?! Firstly, Star Wars reference with the scrolling introduction, pop icons like Brittany Spears, a Mr. Anderson-like character as if out of the Matrix (1999), and more! This movie is tailormade for film geeks and science nerds alike. To me, Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime is like Primer (2004) for stoners — all of the complicated math and nearly un-followable theories that gave Primer (which is about time travel) its cult following, but instead explores multiverse theory and is told through the mouths of one-night-standing, drug-experimenting undergrads. Along the way, the film employs a mixed media approach to delve into explanations, using stylized cartoons to explain the complex theories. With this layman and entertaining approach to physics, I didn’t feel the need to stop this movie a bunch a look up terms as they were being thrown out there, unlike with my experience watching something like Primer. Your mind won’t zone out on the theories because this movie is very much about the dynamic between loveable, spoiled, and slightly neurotic Kara played by Lexie Lowell and the tots adorable and brainy stoner Toby, played by Jeff Kenny, who each bring perfect comedic timing to this sci-fi adventure.
My only gripe about this movie is the runtime — as I said, the dynamic duo was entertaining to follow but they are in a car for the majority of the movie and being stuck in that setting is a little wearing on the senses, and my interest. Would have appreciated a 10-15 minute cut to this movie, especially where it gets to be a little self-indulgent in its own quirky-ness and zaniness. Probably the music videos could stand to be snipped, they seem to be thrown in there just for the sake of absurdity and like I said there is already plenty of that leading up to the end. Otherwise, this movie’s production value makes it look great and director Jonathan Baker took lots of creative licenses using swipes and circle transitions, musical breaks, and random graphics to boost the comedic effect. This indie sci-fi even had some pretty darn good-looking CGI, showing digital and anatomical worlds, which didn’t look at all cheesy. Overall I was plenty pleased with what this movie produced with its interesting narrative, layered characters, and surreal multi-world building,
“Quantum theory, if you think you understand, you don’t.” I have a feeling this movie wasn’t made to be understood but is rather something to be experienced. You’ll scratch your head but you’ll also definitely laugh at the characters as well as along with them at their increasingly ridiculous situations. It even has a cute and catchy cast music video at the end reminiscent of The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai (1984) and clips throughout its credit-reel for you to giggle at. Having just premiered this past May at the 2019 Independent Filmmakers Showcase, check out the website for Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime by CLICKING HERE to catch its next film festival screening date (and also to peruse some very funny movie merch and educate yourself on all the topics this movie presents on god and physics).