This is a romantic comedy that both men and women will love, actually (see what I did there?). Women will like it a lot more, and so will people who don’t analyze the science fiction involved in this form of time travel. It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, and they even change their own rules when it seems to fit the story and could possibly get an extra tear out of you.
I’ll forgive writer/director Richard Curtis, who gave us Love Actually, Pirate Radio, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Notting Hill. Not because this is his last film (he’s claimed in a few interviews), but because enough of the movie made me laugh, cry, and generally have a good time at the theatres. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
At the age of 21, Domhnall Gleeson (son of the great Brendan Gleeson) is told by his father (Bill Nigh) that all the men in the family can travel in time. He tells him he won’t be able to kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy, but merely go back to places he’s been. We quickly see those rules don’t apply, when he goes back and does get to go somewhere he wasn’t. Yet when he uses his powers to go back and try to shag a woman that isn’t Helen of Troy…you might wonder why you’re rooting for him. Didn’t we think Bill Murray was a creep for using a similar technique in Groundhog Day? It helps that we like the Domhnall character and are rooting for him; even if he is using some hardcore manipulation to score with Rachel McAdams (who’s playing yet another time traveler’s wife).
A little of the creep factor is also shed by the fact that when they have their initial meet-cute, she liked him.
There are some fun moral dilemmas that pop up, as the second half that deals with another kind of love – between a father and son. That’s surprisingly moving. It’s a shame that as fun as those two characters are, the others are all one-note; the always angry playwright, and every female in the film.
A few sections of dialogue were rather sloppy. The whole thing with McAdams being a huge fan of Kate Moss was rather bizarre.
A segment with the sister threw an interesting monkey wrench into the story, yet they went with a cop-out on her characters arc.
I also couldn’t figure out why the camera was shaking so much. If he’s traveling in time, okay…but not when he’s walking to the car.
Just as we all loved the romantic time travel film Somewhere in Time, yet were disappointed when we watched it again 10 years later, this movie won’t hold up so well when you think of all the other great time travel type films: Groundhog Day, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Back to the Future, and even the raunchy humor of Hot Tub Time Machine.
Nigh is enjoyable in everything, and he certainly deserves a “World’s Greatest Dad” mug in this, although his choice of reasons for time travel are rather odd (he likes to catch up on his reading). And sure, he may tell his son not to use his gifts to just get rich, yet they’re all living in these lush seaside locations that you’re not sure how they can afford without at least a few bets on the Super Bowl after a trip to the closet (they have to go into a dark room to make it happen).
The movie gets an extra star for playing a NickCave song at a funeral (that’s not a spoiler, since I didn’t tell you who dies).
This gets 3 ½ stars out of 5. I’m guessing most women will give it 5 stars out of 5. The two women I saw it with did.