So there’s a stammering Brit who longs to be in a loving relationship and has the luck to be able to travel back in time to make things right . . . are you sold yet? If not, it’s totally understandable, and you may have the good fortune not to have wasted the ticket price to see About Time. There are a few movies I’ve asked to review during which, throughout the running time, I’ve wondered about the good sense of just ditching the entire endeavor. This was one.
Tim (Domhall Gleeson) is a young man who only wants to love and be loved, and through the device of his time-travel technique, is able to perfect his “meet cute” with Mary (Rachel McAdams), whom he eventually marries and with whom he raises a family. And . . . that’s about it.
Curtis tries to inflect a bit of trauma, in the shape of Tim’s haphazard sister Kit Kat, and the eventual death of his beloved dad (Bill Nighy), but in all seriousness, About Time is about nothing much at all except an attempt to resurrect the early successes of Hugh Grant in movies like Curtis’ Notting Hill and give audiences a sense of feel-good Britishness. Gleeson does the Grant-esque stammer quite well, but he’s nowhere near as dreamy as the original, and the script itself bears little of the charm and humor of, say, Four Weddings and a Funeral. There are compelling performances throughout, notably Lydia Wilson as Kit Kat and Tom Hollander as a playwright in a perpetual foul mood, but they seem adrift in the entirety of the narrative. Gleeson and McAdams are well matched, but again, the material is such that it’s like watching paint dry; no matter the skill of the painter, or in this case, actors, the whole thing is hardly worth it.