About Time Review
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Lately, it seems as though Hollywood’s romantic comedies have been lacking the irresistible charm that they once had. They’re generally sillier, raunchier, and more clichéd than ever before. Fortunately, you can usually rely on the Brits to produce lovable chick flicks that think outside the usual rom-com box. But writer/director Richard Curtis’s latest, About Time thinks so far outside the box that it feels like it’s more than just one movie.

Domnhall Gleeson stars as Tim—who, at 21, learns that the men in his family have the ability to travel through time. For Tim, that means just one thing: that he can travel back to fix his own screw-ups and moments of awkwardness and finally get himself a girlfriend. Even with the ability to time-travel, however, Tim soon finds that the task is often easier said than done—until he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams with a bad haircut). But as he sets out to win Mary’s heart and start their happily-ever-after, he discovers that his ability makes him want to fix more than just his own love life.

As writer or director (or, in some cases, both), Richard Curtis has been responsible for unforgettable films like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually—films loaded with heart and humor and romance. But About Time offers a time-traveling twist on his usual rom-com—with mixed results.

Actually, the time-travel elements of the story tend to come and go, generally coming into play when it’s convenient for the storyline. Tim’s abilities definitely come in handy during the early days of his relationship with Mary—and they give the same old rom-com plotline an imaginative new spin. After all, who wouldn’t love to get a do-over from time to time? And it’s amusing to watch Tim try and try again until he gets it right. Gleeson is absolutely adorable as the bumbling lead—like a young, red-headed Hugh Grant. And while his character may have to go back in time a few times to make Mary fall in love with him, you’re guaranteed to love him right from the start.

Unfortunately, though, this isn’t just a boy-meets-girl movie. In fact, that’s just the beginning. After Tim and Mary meet and fall in love, the story completely switches gears, making a quick transition from quirky, light-hearted rom-com to heavy drama as it attempts to tackle some of the trickier issues related to time travel. Suddenly, Tim isn’t just trying to get a girlfriend; he’s trying to save his free-spirited sister from a bad relationship while dealing with other serious matters that his magical abilities can’t fix. And as the film meanders into more somber territory, it turns an otherwise playful and charming chick flick into a complicated dramatic downer.

Had Curtis simply stuck to the light-hearted whimsy of his time-traveling love story, About Time would have been yet another delightful British rom-com. Instead, he takes it a step or two too far, until it just isn’t much fun anymore. It’s still a sweet and heartfelt film, but its long and rambling story makes it feel disappointingly disjointed.

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