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Time Lords: Fathers and Sons Rule in “About Time”

Pip pip cheerio lads, chaps, and you. I love British films, British TV, British people. Evidence includes numerous viewings of Notting Hill and Love Actually whilst quoting lines in my noggin and cheering on the characters, even though I know what’s going to happen. Also, the way they pronounce “orange juice” is charming. O-raunj juice.

About Time, which hits theaters today, was made by Richard Curtis. He wrote screenplays for Bridget Jones Diary, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, and numerous MR. BEAN episodes, which I capitalized because we love him so. Curtis has a great reputation and track record. I was really excited to see About Time based on the trailer and the volumes of good stuff that came before.

It was okay. Not my favorite, not the worst, but okay. The idea is really original and well-done, however: A young man named Tim has an unusual family. All the men can time travel to a point in his personal past. The time travel method is simple. No spectacular special effects are needed. You don’t see men in tweed jackets with monocles and pipes spinning around in a vortex. Tim learns of this unusual family trait from his dad, played by the always-awesome Bill Nighy. He explains this genetic anomaly with his usual breezy droll smirk. It was fun watching Tim, played by earnestly sweet Domhnall Gleason, learn to control his newfound gift with wise input from his dad.

Tim quickly learns how tricky time can be. One change, even out of the goodness of his heart, can derail other good and promising things. He must rely on wit and memory to correct his mistakes. This especially comes into play as his relationship with American Kate Moss-loving Mary develops. Mary is played by Rachel McAdams, who bugs me a lot. She is overrated. Her lines weren’t written well and she seemed unreal. Nobody says those things. I don’t know of anybody, I can’t conceive of anybody, I can’t in my wildest dreams picture anybody, anywhere, who loves Kate Moss as much as she does. It’s a character flaw, in my book. Yuck. She’s also terribly insecure. One scene, where she tries on dresses, is so painful to watch that I almost got up to go to the bathroom even though I didn’t need to.

About Time would have been a wonderful movie if the lovey-dovey story line were less prominent. Or didn’t exist. As a movie exploring the relationship of family—specifically fathers and sons—it’s brilliant. The scenes between Tim and Dad were my favorites as they came to grips with the one thing time travel can’t do. They hang on as long as possible. It’s beautiful and those were the moments worth watching and waiting for.

I know I’m pretty much a lonely girl when it comes to my feelings about Rachel McAdams. If you like her, you’d probably adore About Time. As I drove away from the theater, I thought about how it was the type of film that could grow on me, like Mr. Bean. At first, you’re all NOSTRILS but then you fall in love. I am going to watch it again when it comes out on DVD, for sure.

About Time opens on November 8, 2013. It’s rated R for some reason, I’m not sure why. I would have rated it PG-13. It stars Billy Nighy, Rachel McAdams, and Domhnall Gleeson.

Edited to add: I also wrote a review at Denver Parent for “The Book Thief” which also opens this weekend. You can bury yourself in popcorn.

4 comments to Time Lords: Fathers and Sons Rule in “About Time”

  • amy

    The Kate Moss obsession sounds unbearable.

  • Gretchen

    Maybe there really was a museum exhibit dedicated to Kate Moss? I don’t know, but there was a wildly popular museum exhibit dedicated to Moss in the film. I had a lot of trouble swallowing that made the love interest more attractive, somehow. It was nuts.

  • Your comments remind me how wonderful and rare Meg Ryan was during her “America’s sweetheart” movie phase. Being a rom-com queen takes a special skill set, and apparently Ms. McAdams doesn’t have all the right tools. I feel like it’s been ages since we’ve seen a really great screen romance. I recommend catching “Enough Said” while it’s still in theaters. It’s sweet, smart and wonderful.

    • Gretchen

      McAdams seems like a lovely, warm person, but something about how she delivers lines grates—like she’s reading a cue card. I thought she was great in “Mean Girls” though. She makes a better villain than sweetheart. I have “Enough Said” on my list. My mom and her friends go to the movies every Tuesday afternoon and she said it was really good, worth a theater trip.

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