INT – Classroom. Day. Last Day of High School.
Mr. Lockhart: “Let me ask you a question. Why are you participating in the (science) expo?”
CJ: “Full rides to MIT..hello?! Oh, and Sebastian wants to go to Morehouse…scholarships…”
Mr. Lockhart: “You and Mr. Thomas are the smartest kids in this school. Don’t tell him I said that. But you’re missing the big picture here. If time travel were possible, it would be the biggest philosophical and ethical conundrum of the modern age. If you had that kind of power, what would you do? What would you change?”
And those are the two questions at the center of the Netflix movie “See You Yesterday.” Best friends CJ and Sebastian create backpacks that enable time travel. When CJ’s brother Calvin is killed by the Brooklyn police in a case of mistaken identity, the teenagers use their time travel ability in a desperate attempt to save Calvin’s life.
What could go wrong? Everything.
That kind of power in the hands of a grieving, hot-headed teenager, no matter how brilliant she is, causes chaos. Different people start to die and suffer because CJ and Sebastian are trying to change time and space. I don’t want to give anything away, but this movie makes you think: What would I do? What would I change?
As happy as I was to see black teenagers depicted this way, my heart ached for the “big picture” problem. CJ can’t even enjoy her and Sebastian’s invention. You know the first and only time I saw a genius black young woman celebrate her inventions and brilliance? Shuri, in “Black Panther.” Wakanda is a fictional hidden land of Africans who can be their full selves without interference. It’s black folks minus colonialism, slavery, and racism. Back in Brooklyn, New York, however, black lives don’t matter. CJ, Sebastian, their families, and their community both pay the price for living in that harsh reality.
“See You Yesterday” is so good in every way, except for the ending. It’s thoughtful, beautifully filmed, current, and relevant. I recommend it highly. It has a Rotten Tomatoes critics score of 93% and an audience score of 30%. I call bullshit. That’s racism pure and simple. People will argue the controversial non-ending is why audiences didn’t like the movie. I don’t buy that. “See You Yesterday” has a social urgency that makes people uncomfortable.
How would I have ended the movie? In the garage where the kids invented the time travel backpacks. I’d have had Sebastian destroy the last time travel backpack in order to save CJ from herself. Watch it and decide how you think the movie should have ended.
An enthusiastic Eight out Ten Mocha Angels.
Up next: Vegan Deli Bowls with Smashed Chickpea Salad (V, GF). Saturday, November 16.