Filmed in 1996, “The Sticky Fingers of Time” delves into the realm of possibilities concerning time travel, altering the future and the past, and genetic manipulation all encased in the mystery of a good ol’ fashioned murder. That premise sets up the movie, which is shot in both color and black and white, to be either a fantastic sci-fi thriller or a cheesy exercise in intellectual masturbation. Sadly — and fortunately — it’s neither.
Doing a time travel movie with a budget of $250,000 is a tricky thing, but writer and director Hilary Brougher pulls it off in a believable, stylized way. She is even fortunate enough to surround herself with able actors, including James Urbaniak, who plays the time tripping Isaac. Urbaniak is like David Hyde Pierce’s younger, stranger brother. The resemblance and mannerisms are uncanny. And then there’s the undertones of lesbianism shared by Drew (Nicole Zaray) and Tucker (Terumi Matthews), which is all brought to a head by the conniving Ofelia (Belinda Becker). A sci-fi flick with hints of lesbianism? That’s a geek’s wet freakin’ dream. Too bad the description is better than the execution.
“The Sticky Fingers of Time” only fails because it’s too subtle. Besides having a title that sounds like an ‘80s porno movie, it tries to handle a fascinating concept with an existentialist philosophy. That can work, but not that well. Imagine Philip K. Dick being a little less paranoid. Good stories, but not nearly as good.
This film wants to be taken so seriously that none of the characters are all that surprised with the concepts they are confronted with. The idea of time travel is treated as if it were as mundane as making ice cream, and all the characters but Isaac (a constructed “time freak”) end up being strangers standing on the beach.
For all the plot twists and multiple storylines that end up converging, one would hope there would be more fireworks. Instead, the film merely sighs its way through to the conclusion, thus causing the audience to give the same response. It wouldn’t have to do the standard Hollywood cliché that time travel movies usually end up embracing, but it could’ve done just a little bit more to elicit a reaction. That was nice, but what’s next?