When Time Expires
In a neat bit of self-reflexive casting, Richard Grieco stars in When Time Expires as a sort of intergalactic has-been, a bureaucrat from outer space who, after being discredited in a scandal, is reduced to functioning as a low-level agent performing menial tasks in alien worlds. This brings him to a small hick town, where his task is to place a quarter in a parking meter at a given time in order to prevent a potential disaster for humanity. A poorly preserved Mark Hamill joins Grieco on planet Earth as Grieco's former partner, while former Northern Exposure star Cynthia Geary rounds out the cast as a plucky local girl who takes an interest in Grieco's surly-stranger-from-another-planet. A good deal of When Time Expires' appeal lies in its minimalism: There's something oddly endearing about a film about space aliens attempting to save mankind that consists mainly of characters sitting around in small-town coffee shops and motels talking about their problems. What few special effects the film does employ are similarly modest: The ray gun B-movie staple Tim Thomerson uses in an attempt to kill Grieco wouldn't seem out of place in an ambitious student film. While When Time Expires is a decent diversion, it does suffer from a tone that falls somewhere between deadpan and merely lethargic. It generally shambles along amiably, but the movie never really capitalizes on the comic potential of its premise. With a sharper script and some better actors, When Time Expires could theoretically have been a nice little sleeper. As it is, it's a decent genre film, but little more.