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About Time (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 125 minutes.

OK for children.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;

Brown paper packages tied up with string;

These are a few of my favorite things.

Oscar Hammerstein

You can add Rachel McAdams and time warp movies to my list, Oscar. This romantic comedy has both, along with a captivating performance by romantic lead Domhnall Gleeson.

Writer/director Richard Curtis has a problem with movie length, as witnessed by his almost interminable 2003 episodic Love, Actually, which came in at a mind-boggling 135 minutes, which might be a world’s record for a romcom. However, that’s what happens when a writer directs his own script; everything is so wonderful he can’t make needed cuts. Curtis also wrote many episodes of Black-Adder an apparently little known, but long-remembered by me anyway, BBC sitcom from the 1980s (Blackadder II had a terrific cast, including Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, and Amanda Richardson).  But back to About Time, although far too long for a romantic comedy this is still a charming little movie that also features a touching performance by Curtis-movie veteran Bill Nighy as Gleeson’s beloved father. Also in top form is Tom Hollander as Gleeson’s foul-tempered landlord.

Gleeson goes through a lot of machinations to finally hook up with McAdams. Even though she constantly displays her award-quality smile, this role doesn’t challenge McAdams very much. She’s there to provide the love interest and that’s about all. It’s enough for me because she is in a lot of scenes, and she gives a fine performance. She stole my heart, along with a lot of other hearts, in her breakout performance as Ryan Gosling’s heartthrob in The Notebook (2004), and she does the same thing here.

McAdams also deserves a lot of credit for not baring her breasts. There are a couple of love-making scenes that would normally cry out for nudity, but apparently McAdams would have none of it. Good for her.

The time warp angle is well done and is as believable as any science fiction twist. But there is a huge plot hole near the end of the movie that really disappointed me. It’s in there to give an emotional tug on the heartstrings, and it did bring tears to my eyes, but, still, in the back of my mind I was saying, “Wait a minute; this is totally inconsistent with what came before!” That’s not what you want to have your audience thinking at the end of what had been, up to then, something that is totally entertaining. But, then, I get into movies. I take the stories seriously. If you’re just there for an entertainment romp, you might not even notice it.

Adding to the pleasure is a wonderful sound track with a lot of great songs, including Andrea Grant singing Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You (which was written about Dolly’s 1974 professional break with Porter Wagoner).

October 30, 2013