Craig's First Take: "About Time"

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At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life. His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.

“Groundhog Day” meets “Notting Hill”, or maybe I should say that weightless meets pretentious, in “About Time”. This is the next script by Richard Curtis, who’s been bringing us charming British quirkiness since 1994’s “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and continuing that on with “Bridget Jones Diaries” and “Love Actually”. “Time” begins as cutely as any of his other confections but he doesn’t have the skills for major drama.

Domhnall Gleeson, known for playing Bill Weasley in “Deathly Hallows”, plays Tim, who receives some rather stunning information from his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in his family can travel back in time. It’s a fantastical enough premise, handled with just the right amount of wit and charm to make you want to see where it goes. Tim, a hapless fellow with the ladies, decides to use this newfound power to go back and re-edit some bungles before meeting Mary (Rachel McAdams), an American, in London.

Curtis initially has the couple meet in a completely dark night club, a clever idea that leads to talk while removing self-consciousness. Later at an art exhibit, when complications lead Tim to have to re-meet her, Gleeson does a terrific job of playing for harmless, oddball laughs. He and McAdams get the job done as far as being a cute, funny couple and it thankfully hinges more on their chemistry with each other rather than on repeated trips back in time. About the only annoying thing about them is a piano solo Curtis won’t stop playing over them nearly every time they meet.

The movie eventually begins feeling too long though, the relationship between these two progresses but it keeps its fluffy outlook. They never fight or seem to have any conflicts, the biggest problem they have is Tim helping her try on dresses. If this movie isn’t going to try to keep it real, I could then go without the preachy sentiments about enjoying life and not letting it get you down. I could also go without the family issues that take up much of the second-half, which actually result in some of the biggest plot-holes regarding the time travel and come off like underwritten, manipulative tear-jerker material.

The supporting cast works well here. Nighy is as spry as ever and Tom Hollander gets some of the best laughs as a surly playwright renting his upstairs flat to Tim. And Gleeson and McAdams work well here and I think if this had been a shorter romantic comedy, they really could have pulled it off. But as is, “About Time” is way too bland to be taken seriously as anything more.

On the Younkin Scale: 5 out of 10