This is the third movie Rachel McAdams has starred in as the wife of a time-traveler. After The Time Traveler’s Wife and Midnight in Paris, I expected About Time to be some combination of spin-off or sequel for both. But apart from the general device of time travel, About Time has its own unique story.
The movie starts out in London, with 21-year-old Tim (played by Domnhall Gleeson, up-and-coming British actor who American audiences have also seen as Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise) discovering from his father that he and all the men in his family have the power to time travel. The only rule is that he can only revisit parts
of his life he’s already lived.
For Tim, his power can only be used to escape the boring clutches of his lawyer life to try and find love. On a blind date, he soon meets Mary (played by the familiar Rachel McAdams, who I’ll admit does seem limited to these kind of roles, but she’s believable and does a good job). He falls in love with her on the spot, but unfortunately, some time-traveling he does for a friend causes him never to have met her, so he has to go about fixing the situation immediately.
The refreshing thing about this movie is its break from the typical rom-com structure you would expect from its smiley, rain-soaked movie poster and toothache-inducing trailer. There’s no monumental, huge lesson Tim learns about why time travel is bad, like in so many other movies. Time traveling doesn’t slowly kill Tim, he doesn’t lose control of it, it doesn’t cause him to never be born–I was proud of the creators of this movie for not falling into the cliched “time travel is actually awful” trap. On the contrary, it’s portrayed as a good thing, something you can use to make life better and appreciate the everyday moments most of us take for granted.
About Time isn’t centered on the typical “Tim falls and love and gets the happy ending.” It’s just the story of his ordinary life; from getting the girl and introducing her to his parents to bickering with her over the number of kids they should have. But it’s realistic: there are bumps along the way, major issues Tim has to overcome, like his sister’s depression. Tim’s relationship with his father (Bill Nighy, who is loveable, hilarious, and steals the show) is also one of the touching moments, and many men will be able to relate to the easygoing and bonded relationship they have. Tim’s family members don’t glow happily in the background like in many rom-coms, they have significant lives and personalities and meaning to him; he uses his time travelling abilities to care for them just as much as he does himself.
Aside from the bumps and sentimental parts, About Time is hilarious. There’s plenty of sexual innuendo and Domhnall Gleeson acting like a goofy stalker. The comedy sprinkled in for the teenagers amongst the rest of the movie’s depth will also create a drama adults will like. The movie is powerful because it’s a movie that can evoke both smiles and sadness naturally, it doesn’t force it, you’ll just laugh and feel a little bittersweet towards the end because it’s such an absorbing movie.
At almost two hours, the story of Tim and Mary may start to drag a little, I found myself pretty tempted to break for some more popcorn. There were a few scenes that could have been easily cut without distracting from the story. Stick it out though: seeing glimpses of the character’s everyday lives is another thing that makes About Time unique and different from other rom-coms that feature only exhausting dramatic moments.
The excellence of About Time could launch many of the movie’s unknown cast into greatness. Another movie also created by Richard Curtis, Love Actually, set off the careers of then-unknowns like Kiera Knightly, Hugh Grant, and Liam Neeson.
Even guys dragged along to this movie will find themselves genuinely enjoying it, although it may seem like your typical rom-com, give it twenty minutes before passing judgment. For girls, it’s honestly one of those movies that’ll go on my iTunes watchlist above cornier Rachel McAdams movies like The Vow and more typical classic rom-coms like No Strings Attached or 27 Dresses. About Time would easily fall into the category of undiscovered classics, with plots that make them original, witty and ultimately relatable, like The Breakfast Club or Juno. Definitely take the time out to watch it, you’ll fall in love with it just like I did.
My star rating: