From here we have the broadest outline of this quirky and quite charming English import from esteemed writer/director Richard Curtis. Nighy’s character is the Doc Brown of the tale, the guide who gives Tim the rules of time-jumping and warnings of the ramifications it may cause in real-time. He urges his son to use it for something that he truly craves, Tim decides that he will use the new-found power to obtain a girlfriend, to which his father slyly replies, “that’s major”.
Curtis writes Dickens’ size romantic drama-comedy hybrids, his too busy plot at times loses its narrative path but all in interesting ways, showcasing eccentric and often humorously dis-likable rogues. Most notably here a bitter and fame obsessed playwright (Tom Hollander) who suffers from writer’s block, but offers Tim a room for rent in the city. The two become an unlikely household and the writer’s ensuing brush with success, at the expense of Tim’s time-hopping antics, is one of the film’s repeated sources of comic inspiration.
The unfortunate casualty in this otherwise enjoyable love story is the miscalculated ‘meet-cute’ scene at a singles event hosted in the pitch black, that has to rank as one of the worst of its kind, ever. When Rachel McAdams’ Kate Moss loving character Mary emerges it’s flat. The costume designer’s have toned down the striking natural beauty of McAdams and saddled her with a frilly unflattering dress and a frumpy haircut. Why cast one of today’s most beautiful romantic comedy stars, only to attempt to make her look like Diane Keaton in a 1970’s Woody Allen movie? This distracting quibble aside, McAdams is a pro at this stuff by now, able to play these parts in her sleep. At least she looked more engaged than the sleepwalking she did through the thoroughly lame The Vow.
Thankfully this is a movie that is about more than a simple love story, it is about multiple relationships and the value of singular moments with loved ones. As the picture progress you’ll either go with Curtis’ sometime obvious emotional manipulation or be induced to sleep, I chose the former and found myself having to fight back that growing lump in the throat by film’s end.
Director: Richard Curtis
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy