The oh-so-lovely British bandwagon that has been built and driven by Richard Curtis, for some years now, rolls merrily on with this, his latest slice of harmless comedy fluff.
When Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) is 21, he is told by his father (Bill Nighy) about a special trait that all of the male family members have. They can all travel back in time. This is, of course, huge news. After a few experimental trips, attempting to improve his love life, Tim quickly realises that it's not as easy as you might think to make changes that will alter your future for the better. Thankfully, that doesn't stop him from using his unique gift when he falls for the lovely Mary (Rachel McAdams), and that makes up the main premise of the movie.
For anyone expecting something akin to Groundhog Day, or even The Butterfly Effect, be forewarned now. This is not a movie that uses the time travel aspect all that well. It does have elements of both of those movies just mentioned, but many scenes play out with very little interest in the more fantastical aspect of the plot. In fact, there's at least one sequence that's completely redundant, just there to illustrate a point that could have been mentioned to Tim at any other time in the movie.
The blame for the shortcomings of the movie rests entirely with Curtis. As writer-director, it would appear that he is now at his happiest when churning out another inoffensive "Richard Curtis rom-com". I like many of his movies, don't get me wrong, but I think it's a shame to try and sell About Time as something a bit different from his previous works when it is, in fact, almost completely the same. It makes the whole thing feel very lazy. The generic pop soundtrack, the big emotional moment accompanied by a classic track, the narration from the main character. This is Curtis 101, by the numbers stuff. The fact that the characters played by Lindsay Duncan and Bill Nighy are simply credited as Mum and Dad really tells you all you need to know. Curtis can do this stuff in his sleep and, considering the lack of care taken with this script, maybe this time he did.
The cast all do quite well, I guess, with what they're given. Gleeson isn't exactly standard leading man material, but that makes his need to tweak things all the more believable. McAdams is always lovely to see onscreen AND I WON'T HEAR A BAD WORD AGAINST HER (*breathe, breathe*). Sorry about that, but she IS pretty hard to ever dislike. Nighy is a cool dad, while Duncan barely registers in the role of Mum (she's just not given anything to do), and Lydia Wilson is the requisite slightly tragic character, Kit Kat (AKA Tim's sister). Tom Hollander steals a few scenes as Harry, a very angry man that Tim ends up living with at one point, Richard Cordery is a dotty uncle, and Margot Robbie is captivating in a small role, as the first major love in Tim's life.
If you're in the mood for a romantic comedy then I'd suggest you go for many better examples ahead of this one. Hell, go for almost any other Richard Curtis movie and you'll get more entertainment value. If you're in the mood for a good time travel movie then, again, there are far too many superior movies that you could choose from. Want a mix of the two? Yep, I'm willing to be that there are still others that you can prioritise ahead of this. It's not terrible. It's just not really worth your time, ironically enough.