Thursday, February 6, 2014

Love and Time Travel


I hate to admit it, but sometimes, I get a little bit sappy.  Sometimes, I don't mind romance.  As long as Humphrey Bogart's playing the male lead.  Or if it has nerdy stuff in it.  For example, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is an unabashedly romantic movie, but I love it, in part because it has a awesome sci-fi machine that erases memories.  When I saw the trailer for About Time, I was sucked in by the fact that it's about dude who can travel through time.  Plus the dude wasn't conventionally handsome, which made him more relatable.  Plus it had Bill Nighy.  It looked a little mushy, but so what?  How bad could it be?

The answer is not at all bad.  In fact, About Time is one of the better non-ass-kicking movies I've seen in a while.  Sure, it's extremely mushy, and it even manages to to be a bit pretentious towards the end.  But, it's funny enough, and Domhnall Gleeson makes an appealing and engaging enough protagonist that the negative stuff doesn't matter so much.

Gleeson plays Tim, an average ginger Brit lawyer who learns a fabulous secret from his father (Bill Nighy): the men in his family can travel through time.  Tim's main concern is to use his gift to find love.  He meets the lovely Mary (Rachel McAdams) and uses time travel to go back and correct the screw ups he makes as he woos her.  He finds that he has to be careful what he changes or he'll screw up his life.  He also learns that there are things he can't stop, no matter how hard he tries.

I loved Gleeson in this role.  He's sweet, charming, funny, and a little bit underhanded.  He and McAdams work really well together.  It's fun to watch Tim win Mary's heart, and you're never not pulling for him.  Gleeson's scenes with Nighy are funny, heartwarming, and moving.  Nighy is terrific as a loving father who's a little bit eccentric.  I dug McAdams, too.  She's sweet, funny, and her character is exactly the type of woman you hope to meet but never do.

The time travel in the movie is handled very simply.  Tim goes into a dark, enclosed space, clenches his fists, closes his eyes and thinks about the moment in his life he wants to go back to.  He can't go into the future, but he doesn't need any humongous piece of fake sci-fi machinery, either.  It's actually pretty elegant.  And not all that different living in your own memories.

About Time is very funny, at times very touching, and I wouldn't watch it in front of people if you're feeling emotionally vulnerable or are an ugly crier.  But watch it.  It's sappy, and a little too sentimental.  But it's a very good movie about learning how to be happy in life, and enjoying your life for what it is.  It doesn't hurt to be reminded about that stuff every now and then.

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