Making the Grades
On Tim’s (Domhnall Gleeson) eighteenth birthday, his father (Bill Nighy) sits him down to have a “big talk.” Yet whatever conversation the awkward teen thought he was about to have, that is not what his Dad tells him. Instead, his parent explains that the men in their family have an unusual gift. They have the ability to go back in time—although just in their own lives.
At first doubtful, then excited, Tim experiments with this new-found power and finds he is able to return and correct silly mistakes, take advantage of missed opportunities and smooth over embarrassing moments. As a bashful young adult, most of his concentration is on his relationships with girls and improving his experiences in bed. This plot focus made me wonder if the title of the movie shouldn’t have been, “About Sex”.
As he goes along, Tim discovers he can’t always keep his present if he wants to change his past. This realization is particularity painful one night when he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), the girl of his dreams. That same evening he has reason to travel back in time to help a friend, but in so doing he erases their encounter. This sets off a series of desperate attempts, where Tim ping-pongs back and forth through time, trying to meet Mary again.
As his love life settles down, so does the urge to reconstruct the past. Still, unforeseen events and tragedies tempt him to try periodically. As Tim’s understanding of the consequences of his time tinkering increases, the more reluctant he becomes to use what now feels more like a curse than a blessing.
About this point in the film, the father and son have another talk. This time the exchange is poignant as the two discuss the lessons they have learned over their remarkable lives. Interestingly, the insights they share about making the most of each moment are also very applicable to those of us who lead ordinary existences.
It is this maturing in both the characters and the storyline that may make About Time worthy of your time. It is just unfortunate that the script has to include so many sexual expletives and profanities. That, along with frequent sexual dialogue, implied sexual activity and depictions of injuries from a car accident, makes it difficult to give this movie a recommendation for teen and adult viewing. If only I could go back in time and remove the offensive content…
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about About Time.
What do Tim and his father learn as they travel in time? Does their unusual ability make them more or less careful about the way they spend time in the first place? What would you do if you had this gift?