Domhnall Gleeson stars as Tim – a young college grad about to embark on life in London. He hasn’t always been smooth with the ladies, and often wishes he could go back and do the right or suave thing. Well, it turns out he is about to get his chance.
Dad (Bill Nighy) feels Tim is ready to learn the family secret. The men of this family have the ability to go back in time, and Tim finds this power to be very helpful, especially when it comes to meeting the love of his life, Mary (Rachel McAdams), or trying to help a friend or family member in need.
About Time is a cutesy idea, but not an emotionally impactful or impressive movie. Writer/director Richard Curtis knows a little something about romantic comedies (c’mon, the guy wrote and directed Love Actually), but About Time needs more than some romance or comedy, and even needs more of those as well.
About Time doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Curtis gives us a movie that meanders along the path of Tim’s life without any solid plot driving it all. It’s as if he decides to patch together a few life moments and call it a movie, instead of giving us a story that encompasses a life.
Plus, McAdams is horribly cast in About Time. She’s a wonderful actress, but appears to be 10 – 15 years too old for Tim (even though the actors only are 6 years apart). Sadly, they feel like they are from two different movie generations, and the age discrepancy can’t be overcome, no matter what new haircut you give McAdams.
Also, Curtis seems to have trouble finding a tone. At times, About Time is too silly with the time travel stuff and the machinations Tim must go through to fix life or avoid screwing up something important. I am not expecting some big Star Trek-like concern about the impact of time travel on the Space-Time Continuum, but the time travel angle of the movie becomes a cheap and easy fall back for laughs or easy fixes to plot problems.
Then, Curtis seems to be trying to bring in some big ideas about life, fate, how fate can’t be avoided, the consequences of choices, and something about attempts to control our lives too much. Yet, none of those larger themes is strongly enough expressed.
Luckily, the brilliant Nighy almost single-handedly saves About Time. He is the smoothest, warmest actor on the screen who brings amazing depth, dignity and gravitas to the character and story. He provides some of the only true emotions in the whole film and you end up wishing the movie was about his time travel exploits instead of the young kid’s. THAT would have been a great movie.
About Time is rated R for language and some sexual content