Richard Curtis has an interesting filmography. Of the films he’s directed, most of them are fairly lighthearted fluff which is, depending on your disposition, sweet or saccharine. Films like Bridget Jones Diary and Love Actually. He’s written far more, including the likes of War Horse for Steven Spielberg, but it’s the sweet stuff he’ll likely be remembered for.
His latest effort, About Time appears to be much of the same but with a dash of time travel thrown in for good measure. Is it good? Well, I dunno about that. Is it bad? Well, I dunno about that either.
If you’ve seen a trailer for About Time then you know the basic premise. Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson, turns 21 and is told by his father, Bill Nighy, that like his forbears he can travel in time along his own personal timeline. He doesn’t believe until he tests the power and ends up redoing the new years eve party from the night before.
Tim’s power has some limitations: mainly, he can’t travel into the future, only the past and only to times he can remember. This works out pretty well though, considering it gives him the power to do anything that goes wrong over.
Naturally as he carries on with life he meets Mary, played by Rachel McAdams, and falls madly in love with here, and then uses his time traveling abilities to make sure he does everything right so she falls in love with him too.
Anything else I say here might fall into spoiler territory but suffice to say that through the course of the story Tim has several revelations most of which have to do with his extraordinary power teaching him to appreciate the ordinary things in his life. The story doesn’t really give Tim much in the way of conflict (in fact, the implied conflict in the trailer isn’t present at all) either, it’s really just a day in the life movie about a guy who can move through time.
The moral of the story is a little heavy handed, and to be honest there are more than a few plot holes to do with his time travel, but it doesn’t really matter because the movie falls into sweet territory pretty easily.
Domhnall Gleeson is pretty well primed to be the next stammering good looking Hugh Grant type for British Cinema. The film doesn’t throw many challenges at him but like Mr. Grant he handles everything with just enough charm that you don’t really care. McAdams similarly has a pretty easy part to play (and one she’s played over and over again) but that’s sort of perfect for the movie so it works.
Bill Nighy is Bill Nighy. Funny, caring, warm, and more than a little quirky.
So to answer the question I posed above, it’s not a great movie but it’s not a bad movie. What it is is just the right sort of fluff piece you should take your sweetheart to see, turn your brain off, and enjoy the quirky story about the stammering awkward-but-sweet man woo the quirky-and-we’re-supposed-to-beleive-less-attractive-than-her-friend woman using a combination of raw charm and time travel and learning about life and love at the same time.
So there you have it. It’s mediocre, but enjoyably so (especially if you have a girl to put your arm around).