Rated: R Reviewed by: Jim Release date: November 8, 2013 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
Long and mushy British dramedy takes on romance and time-travel in an overwhelming way.
Richard Curtis's About Time stars Domhnall Gleeson (True Grit and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2), Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy and segments of it will remind some viewers of earlier hits that he wrote like Notting Hill and Love Actually, even Four Weddings and a Funeral. Although here situations and characters are much more on the perfunctory side and the whole enterprise isn't pared down enough while a real focus isn't adeptly realized.
Gleeson's socially reticent Tim Lake is of the Hugh Grant ilk having enjoyed his well-to-do childhood on a picturesque Cornish seaside who learns from his retired professor dad (a fine Nighy also of Curtis's other directorial effort Pirate Radio) about an inherited male gift (on their 21st birthday) to temporally revisit portions of their lifeline. It can be used in a way that can have more of a personal effect and dad explains not to divulge this specialty.
In relocating to a not so disparate London to fulfill his barrister aspirations he decides to use this for emotional enrichment as there he meets a publisher's reader from the U.S., Mary, a cute, yet one-dimensional cAdams (from The Time-Traveler's Wife and the considerably more charming Woody Allen nostalgic piece "Midnight In Paris). Tim knows he can make their lives quite luminescent particularly when it comes to intimacy as part of his plan includes stealing her from her boyfriend.
Casual line-readings rendered with snappy wit has been a Curtis mainstay and with some extensive close-ups and montages the way the premise is used for the 'seize-the-day' mantra starts out a bit sleazy before getting more glibly heartfelt for the inevitable lachrymose or risible result. It's all worked into not messing too much with the quantum physics of things (though nit-pickers will have there way in questioning character choices around the decade montages whether including the joys of births and weddings or calamities).
This essential ebb-and-flow is crammed in a way that allows for Lydia Wilson to be the self-destructive, manic sister Kit-Kat and Tom Hollander as Tim's new flatmate to be a very cynical playwright. Clearly Gleeson has a likable quality, clumsy, yet awkward and it's not straining credulity that Tim and Mary's union is marked with contentment. Maybe the best stroke in an other words undeveloped About Time is more involving father/son dynamic effectively bolstered by Nighy's tingling wit in creating the type of paterfamilias that everyone would like to have. One still wishes that a branded, curdled whimsy and brutal pull at the heartstrings had a more distinctively disarming timeline that even romantics would find more reasonably decisive and endearing.