This movie review was originally commissioned by and written for USA TODAY COLLEGE in the winter of 2013. It was never published there, so it lives on, in full, un-copyedited glory, here. Enjoy. Photo found here.
If you’re a cynic or you’re not a fan of Richard Curtis’s love affair with love, stay away from About Time. If, however, you want an entertaining feel-good movie, then About Time is right up your alley.
Curtis, he of “Love Actually,” “Notting Hill” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral” fame, directed and wrote this time-traveling romantic comedy about Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), who discovers on his 21st birthday that all of the men in his family can travel through time. All they have to do is walk into a dark place, clench their fists, think of a moment in their past, and then close their eyes. His dad (the always reliable Bill Nighy) used the talent to read all of the books he possibly could, and Tim’s grandfather apparently used it to accumulate and squander lots of money before his death. Tim decides to use his time traveling abilities to find love.
Tim’s first attempts at true love go horribly wrong, as he tries to woo his sister’s friend Charlotte, who wants nothing to do with Tim, but leads him on anyway. He then spends the next coupe of months working at a law firm, heartbroken, until one night, he agrees to go on a blind double date with his friend. There, he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), the woman who will become the love of his life.
Then, Tim realizes he can use his time traveling ability to help people, so he decides to help his roommate’s play become a success- on the same night that he also meets Mary. So Tim decides to use some more time traveling shenanigans to woo Mary for the second time, this time at a house party.
That event sets the tone for his relationship with Mary- he redoes every moment he wishes he could do over again with her. This includes their first date, the first time they have sex, his proposal to her and who he chooses for his best man at their wedding.
At first, Tim is selfish with his time traveling abilities and only uses them for his relationship with Mary. As he grows older, he starts to time travel to try to help members of his family and to spend more time with his dad before he dies. Eventually, he learns to live every day to the fullest.
It’s an enjoyable movie that will entertain you, but don’t try to evaluate its rules of time travel. It seems like they were just made up as the film goes along, almost as if Curtis backed himself into a corner and had to write himself out of it with some expository dialogue.
The chemistry is believable between Gleeson and McAdams, and their relationship is, as it should be, the highlight of the film. Nighy is also excellent as Tim’s father.
For fans of Curtis’s other work, it’s not quite up to par with “Love Actually” or “Notting Hill,” but sometimes you just want to go to a movie to feel good, and in that regard, About Time is a success.