Richard Curtis has so much to tell us about life. Seize the day! Show people you love them before it’s too late! Don’t let the right one get away! His movies become restless jumbles of exclamation points pantomimed by actors. Some still work like gangbusters (Four Weddings and a Funeral). Others are so gummed up with allegedly colorful types with adorable romantic problems that they meld into a sort of rom-com mulch (Love Actually). About Time is dreadful in many, though not all, ways. Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is the scion of an eccentric but genteel English family that likes to have lunch on the beach near their rambling family estate every day, summer and winter. But don’t hate him just yet: His father is played by Curtis favorite Bill Nighy — always a good thing — and when Tim turns 21, Dad informs him that the men in the family share a gift: They can travel back in time, but only to moments they’ve already experienced. Tim uses this power to fine-tune his awkwardness with girls into a kind of stealth courtship. When he opens his mouth and something stupid comes out, he can just reel back a few minutes. That’s how he lands Mary (Rachel McAdams), a clumsy-cute publishing type who of course has no clue about Tim’s unusual gift. Gleeson — son of the superb Brendan Gleeson — is that rare movie commodity, a fairly charismatic redheaded actor. Curtis uses the time-travel device to achieve a number of aims, not all of them wretched, but he’s always putting quotation marks around things, squeezing every dramatic drop out of even the most pedestrian device.
Richard CurtisRachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Lee Asquith-Coe, Lindsay Duncan, Catherine Steadman, Paige Segal, Lisa EichhornRichard CurtisTim Bevan, Eric FellnerUniversal Pictures