The time travel in “About Time,” a new rom com starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams, is what Alfred Hitchcock would have called the McGuffin. It’s the thing that drives the movie’s plot but ultimately isn’t that important to the story.
When Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) turned 21 his father (Bill Nighy) lets him in on a family secret—he comes from a long line of time travellers. “We can go back and kill Hitler,” or shag Helen of Troy,” explains dad, they can simply go back to the recent history and make minor changes.
With visions of inter-dimensional travel in his head he does what any twenty-one year might do. Use his unique ability to get a girlfriend. The object of his affections is Mary (Rachel McAdams), but to win her over he’ll have to use his special gift to hone his Casanova skills.
As they live their lives together, however, he comes to discover that not everything can be solved with a quick trip back in time.
“About Time” is the kind of movie critics will call sappy and sentimental. They’ll bash it because it wears its heart on its sleeve, which is exactly the reason I liked it.
After “The Time Traveller’s Wife” it’s time Rachel McAdams got a time travel romance right!
It’s a silly premise but for me the idea wasn’t about the time travel but the lessons Tim learns while jumping dimensions about life and happiness. It is sweetly romantic, but it plays better as a comedy about family than a rom com or sci fi farce mainly because of its unlikely and charming leading man.
If John Hughes had made British films he would have loved this guy. He does have a bad haircut, but I thought he was a charming, if unlikely, leading man. He has a way with a line and I felt there was a real arc to his character. He literally grows up and becomes a man on screen, which is something you don’t see in rom coms very often.
“About Time” is a bit labored at times, but McAdams is an engaging presence, Nighy is warm and odd and Richard E. Grant, who is only on screen for three minutes manages to steal the show with a beautifully timed slow burn.