As a young woman in college, I have called upon many a chick flick to distract me from the pile of homework taunting me from inside my backpack. I quickly dubbed one Saturday night a “movie night” when I had nothing to do but my homework, but could not bear to be productive. The movie that saved me from studying was “About Time,” starring Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams, which is definitely classified as a romantic comedy, but with one peculiar twist.
Gleeson’s character, Tim Lake, is a tall, lanky, awkward redhead, who is just endearing enough to make his audience love every stupid thing he does throughout the movie. The day after a disappointing New Year party at his family’s home, Tim’s father informs him that the men of the family are able to time travel, leaving both the audience and Tim completely befuddled. So far, nothing about this movie is reminiscent of the romantic comedy genre. Up until now, the film had been created with realism in mind, and this new supernatural talent that the Lake men had was a mystical aspect that one would think would not tie in very well at all.
This is perhaps why the movie works so well. Tim Lake portrays everything average. Nothing about his appearance catches the viewers eye, and he is nothing like the sculpted jaw, sculpted-everything-else hunk you would normally find starring in a romantic comedy. However, it is good that he so normal, because it contrasts this very unique gift he was born with. A stunning male lead with perfectly coiffed hair and bulging muscles who could time travel would have made me laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it all. He is nothing special, yet the audience finds him adorable. Everything throughout the film is so real that the fact that Tim can time travel seems well within the realm of possibilities.
After Tim initially grapples with this discovery about himself, he decides to use his ability to time travel to find love. After a failed and hilarious attempt to do so, he eventually meets Mary, played by Rachel McAdams, who is smart and shy, and is forced to meet her several more times, after a time-travelling mishap that erases their first-meet entirely. Tim and Mary’s relationship is unique from the standard couples you might see in romantic comedies because the focal point of the movie is not on their ups-and-downs, but rather how a romantic relationship is integrated into an already-established family. Mary is deeply invested in Tim’s family, while we see little of her own. It is interesting to see how she interacts with Tim’s family, as if she has known them her entire life.
While “About Time” isn’t Oscar material, it is a new and refreshing take on romantic comedies. The film dares to take a risk by dipping its toe in the genre of science-fiction, but does not alienate its audience when it does so. One difficult thing about watching this movie is that you are not informed on the “rules” that come along with Tim’s ability to time travel. In some ways this is frustrating as you watch for the first time, but it is also a chance to experience this strange aspect of the film right along with Tim. If you need a break from homework, or something different to watch at Girls’ Night, this movie will leave you feeling refreshed and happy.
Ivy is a Global Studies and English Writing double major (class of 2015) from Saint Peter, MN, who loves reading, coffee, travel, and dogs. Combine any two of those and she’s in her happy place. Prior to writing for the reviews blog, Ivy has enjoyed volunteering for Campus Service Commission and serving as the Secretary/Treasurer for Fjelstad Hall Council.