The Time Traveler’s Wife parents guide

The Time Traveler’s Wife Parent Review

Although parents may want to use caution when considering this title for younger viewers, the captivating and emotionally involving story travelled through two hours of my life with relative ease.

Overall C+

Some wives complain that their men don't spend enough time with them. For Clare (Rachel McAdams) the issue is even more of a problem because her husband Henry (Eric Bana) was born with a rare genetic disorder causing him to involuntarily travel through time. Despite the obvious challenges, Clare does all she can to maintain their relationship.

Violence C+
Sexual Content C+
Profanity C+
Substance Use B

The Time Traveler’s Wife is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality.

Movie Review

All of us are born with a few genetic anomalies, but for Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana), his “defect” is far more difficult to cope with than buckteeth or a bad knee. While going about his daily routine, he will suddenly disappear. Pulled into a random time and place, Henry is an involuntary time traveler—and it makes focusing on any aspect of his life particularly difficult.

NEW: Listen to our Parent Previews Podcast and take control of media and technology in your family!

Working at his job as a research librarian (we can only assume he has very generous extended health benefits) he bumps into Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams). She says she has been waiting for this moment and insists that she knows him very well. Hesitant, but willing to accept her assertion that they are/were/will be best friends, the pair begins (or perhaps continues) their serious relationship back at her apartment.

If it seems Clare has fallen madly in love too quickly, sporadic flashbacks will eventually justify her passion. These occur whenever Henry is hit by one of his spells, allowing us (the audience) to see various parts of his life. These include quiet moments, like Henry as an adult visiting with Clare during her childhood. We also share pivotal events and other destiny changing encounters, such as the horrifying crash that took his mother’s life (this is shown from the prospective of young Henry sitting in the back seat of the car). Some of these incidents involve blood and/or injury, but explicit violence isn’t shown.

This female-skewed movie will more likely draw adults than teens, but parents of prospective attendees should be aware of a few glitches they’ll have to navigate while following this traveler. One involves the only scientific technicality addressed in this movie: Henry must (conveniently) leave his clothes behind every time he sets sail for a new destination. Hence we see many shots of Bana’s bare buttocks. (We get a view of McAdams’ nude backside too, during a scene where she crawls out of bed). Another is that our naked protagonist is forced to learn how to steal clothes at each location. Smashing car windows, picking locks and evading police are all part of his routine. Other potential problems come from discussions surrounding conception, a miscarriage and a vasectomy—all relatively serious adult sexual themes. As well, during part of their portrayed sexual relationship, Henry and Clare are not married.

A romance with a sci-fi twist, The Time Traveler’s Wife wisely focuses on the couple’s relationship and later, the care of their child. Thanks to solid performances from Bana and McAdams, the resulting emotions are surprisingly authentic considering the fantastical premise. Moments of mild humor help the script too, such as when surrounding characters—friends, a genetic specialist and policemen—are appropriately surprised and shocked when Henry dissolves into the 4th dimension. Although parents may want to use caution when considering this title for younger viewers, the captivating and emotionally involving story of The Time Traveler’s Wife allowed this film to travel through two hours of my life with relative ease.

Starring Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston. Running time: 107 minutes. Theatrical release August 14, 2009. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Time Traveler’s Wife here.

The Time Traveler’s Wife Parents Guide

When complaining about living with her husband’s condition, Clare exclaims that she “never had a choice.” How would knowing your future remove or distort the your opportunity to pick your options? Do you think the risks of knowing your future would or would not outweigh the benefits?