About Time

About-Time-poster-303x450When I first heard about the film About Time, it’s biggest selling point was that it was by the writer of Notting Hill and Love Actually – both of which I love, the latter is pretty much a staple come Christmastime. The trailer painted it as a quirky romance with a time travel element. Some people became confused because it stars Rachel McAdams, who also stars in the Time Traveler’s Wife, another romance involving time travel. It also throws back a little to The Notebook – lovey doveyness in the pouring rain, anyone?

So when I came across a used copy of the film for $5, I figured, what the heck. Worst case it would be a palatable romance and good for a little throw-away entertainment. (After all, that’s cheaper than two matinee tickets for my wife and I at a theatre.) However, Richard Curtis (the writer), delivers again, with a film which has serious heart, lovable characters, and an emotional climax that left both my wife and I in tears.

About Time

Sappy? Sure. But this scene with the Underground (or as we Americans call it – the subway) musicians is a beautiful piece of editing to show the passage of time.

In brief, the premise is that on his 21st birthday, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson – soon to be seen in Star Wars Episode VII), is told by his father (the brilliant Bill Nighy) that the men in their family can travel back in time to points in their own lives. Never forward, simply back in order to change or redo events in their lives. Tim decides he will use his gift to find true love. (This is that romance element that had me cringing for a predictable and relatively uneventful conclusion.) Of course, he does the amusingly expected revisits – avoiding awkward social faux pas, using information he learned to later sweet talk his way into a lady’s good graces (ala Groundhog Day), and, of course, better performance in the bedroom. But in trying to write a perfect love story, he realizes that love is anything but perfect, and when you try to change too much, there are consequences.

about-time3

They were a shoe in for the international father/son imaginary weight lifting finals.

I won’t go into all the storyline elements, as I don’t want to spoil the film. However, I will say, that this film does an excellent job of utilizing a time travel element, without getting too mired in all the logistics and temporal shenanigans. To travel in time, they simply stand in a dark place, clench their fists, close their eyes, and they’re back in time – which is punctuated by a simple sound effect for continuity purposes. No fancy contraptions, no special effects, it just happens. They replace their former self, so no risk of Back to the Future-style self run-ins destroying the space/time continuum, and when they’re finished, dark place/fists/eyes and back to the present with the changes in place. They bring up the “Butterfly Effect” briefly, and Bill Nighy quickly sweeps it under the rug with basically a “well, we haven’t destroyed the world yet.” Are there times you find yourself briefly saying “Yeah, but that would change so many other things!”? Sure. But it’s forgivable because you really want it to work out for the characters. Not to say there aren’t some less-than-happy outcomes to some of their decisions.

This film really did catch me off guard. I went in expecting to find at least some entertainment value, and walked away with a strong emotional response. Great performances all around, humor, romance, a little sci-fi fantasy, and a life-affirming message we can all learn from. If you want to share a quality viewing experience with someone, be sure to check out About Time.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Have you seen this movie? Rate it!
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
LEAVE A COMMENT

Hot Chick

Jessica Spencer (Rachel McAdams) is a stuck-up, self-absorbed, cruel little harpie who strings along and breaks the hearts of boys and girls alike (in different ways). She’s exactly the type of girl that makes you think “Boy I hope she wakes up one morning to find that she’s traded bodies with Rob Schneider, and is destined to be chased from her home by her family, maced by her best friend, forced into a fist fight, watch her boyfriend find someone else, and scratch out a living cleaning toilets and mowing yards!” And, just as you’d expect, that’s exactly what happens. Via a ridiculous plot device that I won’t even bother with, Jessica and a male mugger (Schneider) wake up one morning on opposite sides of town, begin their morning urination ritual, and suddenly realize that something is very, very wrong. Hilarity ensues.

No, really, it does. The biggest surprise of The Hot Chick is that it is actually really good. Most of the credit for that has to go to Schneider, as he pulls off one of the toughest acting assignments I’ve ever seen with flying colors. I am not, generally a Schneider fan. I consider his acting sophomoric and distasteful. But it seems he was born to play a teenage girl. No, I mean that as a compliment. Watching Schneider prance, preen, giggle and bat eyes in this movie, you really do forget that he’s acting and he isn’t really a teen chick in the wrong body (at least I … assume he isn’t). I don’t know what Schneider does in his personal time, but he spends a lot of this movie hanging out (so to speak) in tight, pink T-shirts and tight panties, and pillow fighting with Jessica’s BFF’s until it seems almost natural.

Jessica’s best friend (Anna Faris) really wanted to see Jessica’s new … best friend.

Aside from Schneider’s antics, the story is built around Jessica’s quest to get her body back, with the help of a bunch of other girls, once she’s convinced them of her identity, as well as get her boyfriend back. Her boyfriend has been stolen by an equally stuck-up cheerleader from a rival school, and I have to say, there is something very satisfying about watching Schneider head-butt her. There’s something even more satisfying about seeing a rich daddy’s-girl, now stuck in a male body, trying to do manual labour. Probably the funniest scene in the movie is when Jessica (Schneider) enters a men’s room, and finds all the stalls occupied, and has no choice but to use the urinal. She then begins asking other men how to pee standing. (Side note: it’s not like it’s that hard.)

There are a few holes in the plot. It’s interesting that nobody seems to notice Jessica’s missing for a week. Also, her boyfriend, Billy, goes on his own internal journey. This ads some human interest to the plot, but they could have had him turn into a decent guy without having him turn into a total man-gina. All in all though, this is a movie well worth seeing.

 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Have you seen this movie? Rate it!
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
1 COMMENT

Sherlock Holmes

The other big release living in James Cameron’s shadow over the holiday season, “Sherlock Holmes” pits Robert Downey, Jr. in the titular, brilliant detective character, this time in a 2009 F/X-filled upgrade courtesy of Guy Ritchie.

The plot is a little shaky, but seems to involve the sorcerer Lord Blackwood’s attempt to take over the world in all-too-evil fashion.  After his capture and sentenced hanging early on, he returns from the grave to entice the interest of the doubting Detective Holmes and his most trusted counterpart Watson (Jude Law) to investigate.

Law and Downey have a real chemistry here, consistently delivering the laughs and swashbuckling fun. In fact, this end-of-the-decade rendition of the classic character is both unlike anything audiences have seen before and perfectly suitable. The film boasts an infectious “Pirates of the Caribbean” vibe, and Downey is always worth the watch.  Having recently jump-started his career again, it’s a pleasure to see the talented A-lister swashbuckling his way through this fast and often funny adventure film. But to my digress, the film has the wrong director: Guy Ritchie. He takes a lot of directorial nods from his “Rock N Rolla” and “Snatch” to deliver a confusing, almost uninteresting narrative.  The plot never kept me involved, even when the set pieces and two lead actors did.  With that said, the action and comedy deliver for the most part, and for that reason “Holmes” will be a fun time for most, you will just wonder what’s going on.  I have to express my minor disappointment, but nonetheless, I am looking forward to a more engaging sequel.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Have you seen this movie? Rate it!
Rating: 3.0/5 (1 vote cast)
1 COMMENT