Monday, November 18, 2013
His male leads are usually a little gawky. Hugh Grant was Curtiss’ go-to goofball in the past, and now he’s elevated character-actor Domhnall Gleeson to leading-nerd status. And he’s fine. Sweet. Loveable. Hey, it's just refreshing to see a romcom that doesn't star Paul Rudd.
I was very much looking forward to this movie. I’m a fan of Curtiss’ work and call me shallow but I’d rather see fantasy girls than tortured slaves. His pictures always have an appealing glossy look and he shows off London the way Woody Allen shows off New York. (My big problem with London is the food, but Curtiss gets around that by establishing a restaurant where everyone eats in pitch-black darkness. I can only assume the food is better when you don’t know what it is.)
So it should be a lovely frothy movies. And it is. For maybe the first half hour. And then the fatal flaw becomes apparent.
The conceit of the movie is what brings it down. That conceit is that when Gleeson turns 21 he learns that men in his family can time travel to the past. It’s not explained why but some things defy explanation like time travel and Skyline Chili. Setting aside all of the paradoxes of time travel, it’s a fun convention for awhile.
But here’s the problem: it eliminates any suspense in the movie. Any obstacle Gleeson faces, any mistakes he makes – he just goes back and fixes them. You NEED obstacles in storytelling. You need problems, and complications, and messy situations, and decisions that carry consequences. Otherwise you run out of steam. And that was the case here. Watching Gleeson use time travel to turn things to his advantage was a hoot for a half hour. But after that it got tedious. It’s like a Superman movie where for two hours all he does is thwart evil and no one has the power to even slow him down. Watching him fly and kill terrorists would be fun at first but after awhile you’re saying “Would anyone mind if I texed General Zod?”
Once Rachel McAdams becomes the time traveler’s wife – as opposed to the movie she starred in called THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE (this may be the weirdest bit of typecasting ever), the film wanders looking for things to do. Thank God for Bill Nighy. I don’t know how he does it. He somehow manages to play the same character and always makes him fresh. And he can play ping pong!
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM