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Time travel rom-com is sappy, sentimental, and actually a pretty good watch


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. With visions of inter-dimensional travel in his head he does what any 21-year-old 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 he comes to discover that not everything can be solved with a quick trip back in time.

• Richard: 3/5
• Mark: 3/5

Richard: Mark, this 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 from the time travel about life and happiness. What did you think?

Mark Breslin: Richard, as you know, I am no fun. No fun at all. So I spent most of the movie looking for paradoxes in the physics of the time travel conceit. Like all time travel movies, it sets up arbitrary rules, and then breaks them all over the place.

The movie features two of the worst haircuts in the history of cinema, and a romance I didn’t really care about. But there’s another deeper movie in there, which is a movie about fathers and sons, and I liked that part very much. Sentimental? Yes, but I felt that part of the movie worked better than its rom-com components. Of course, it could have been the haircuts.

RC: I didn’t actually care much about the romance angle or the time travel. I was drawn to the film because of Domhnall Gleeson’s charming and slightly goofy performance.

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.

MB: True enough, although I always thought there should be a law barring gingers from appearing in television and film.

I liked a lot of the scenes in the movie, especially one set in one of those noir restaurants, where you eat in total darkness. It’s a literal blind date, and a nice twist on “meeting cute.” Bill Nighy is wonderful in the movie, as he always is, and Rachel McAdams does a good version of cute, although she looked about five years too old for the part.

But then Gleeson would go into a closet and ball his fists and … some of the goodwill was lost for me.

RC: Richard E. Grant’s three-minute cameo is almost worth the price of admission. He has one of the best reaction shots I’ve seen this year.

MB: And a similar hairline as Nighy. Hmmmm…

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