Streaming Movie Review: About Time

Platform: Netflix

Genre: Romantic Comedy

On his 21st birthday, Tim Lake learns from his father that all the men in his family can travel back in time. His father encourages him to use his power to find happiness instead of money or fame. He asks Tim what he really wants out of life, and to find that. Tim says he wants to get a girlfriend.

Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Nighy, About Time is a 2013 romantic comedy written and directed by Richard Curtis, a master of the genre. Curtis wrote and directed Love Actually. He also wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary.

About Time is unapologetically cheesy and does feature rom-com staples like a meet-cute. But it is not really a rom-com, at least in the vein of Curtis’ other films. Tim (Gleeson) does pursue a relationship with Mary (McAdams), but it is not the main plot of the movie. Instead, About Time is more about Tim’s life and pursuit of happiness. Tim is very much the main character, leaving Mary to be a secondary role. In fact, Tim’s father (Nighy) appears in this movie about as much as Mary does.

Set between the beautiful backdrop of Cornwall and London, About Time is beautiful. Tim grows up on the sea in Cornwall, on the southwest coast of England. There are cliffs and beaches and crashing waves. The scenery there is excellent. He later moves to London, where he meets Mary.

Tim is a kind, awkward, sentimental, very British leading man. The role is very similar to what Hugh Grant has done many times, especially in Curtis’s other work. He was easy to root for in this movie. He is awkward, but you don’t cringe at his scenes.

Gleeson does not usually pursue romantic roles, but he pulled this off. I remember he was in Brooklyn as the ultimate loser in a love triangle. His role also reminded me a little of his role in Ex Machina. In both, he is awkward and romantic, though the settings are extremely different.

McAdams, as Mary, is delightful. Much like in The Notebook or Wedding Crashers, McAdams is also someone that you support. Unfortunately, she does not have so much to do in this movie. She is overqualified for her secondary role. I wish I could have seen her more in this movie. Still she is fun and makes the movie better.

Tim’s father is played by Nighy, and he is good as well. He tells a couple of good jokes, and provides good guidance. Tim has a strong relationship with his father, and it is an important part of the movie. Margot Robbie also shows up in an early role. There is not a lot for Robbie to do, but she is in a couple scenes and it is fun to see her in something before she blew up.

I liked the time travel portion of the plot. It is very prevalent, and is a bit ridiculous, as a concept. But it worked for me. The movie derives a lot of humor from it. The movie asks you to not think too hard about the implications of time travel. If you can’t abide by that, you will not enjoy this movie. The characters almost never have to think about the implications of time travel. It sort of just works.

About Time is unabashedly sentimental. It is clever, funny, and cheesy. But it is a good kind of cheesy. The tugs on your heartstrings don’t feel cheap, and they do feel earned. It is a great option for a feel-good movie. It is also the type of movie I could see myself rewatching for a scene or two on cable if I came across it on cable in the future. I recommend watching it.