“About Time” is the kind of film that can win over even the grouchiest of moviegoers.
The latest from writer/director Richard Curtis, the man behind “Love Actually,” is a charming mesh of science fiction and romantic comedy that proves to have a little more up its sleeve than one might expect.
The premise requires a bit of a leap of faith.
Domhnall Gleeson plays Tim, a British schlub who learns from his father (Bill Nighy) on his 21st birthday that the men in his family have the ability to travel in time.
The gift doesn’t come without some rules. For instance, you can’t go back and change the outcome of World War II or something that large in history, but you can go back and change things that happen in your own life.
Tim sees this as a chance to improve his ability with women, particularly Mary (Rachel McAdams), a beautiful woman he meets at a restaurant one night.
There are elements of “Groundhog Day” in play here, with Tim using his powers to woo Mary and sort of shape the relationship the way he wants. It’s a bit of cinematic trickery that might not click with some audiences, especially cynics who don’t like to be overtly manipulated.
I’m usually in that category, but this film works because – like “Love Actually,” and “Notting Hill” and “About a Boy” (two more films that Curtis wrote) – the heartstrings are tugged in a more subtle manner.
Gleeson and McAdams help, with their nice chemistry. They are very likable and easy to root for.
Nighy is also very good as the time traveling guide.
The romance between Tim and Mary is enough to give “About Time” a passable recommendation, but the film soars when it takes an unexpected turn in the final act – delving into the relationship between Tim and his dad.
It takes “About Time” to another level, making it more than just a romantic comedy. It’s a feel-good film about family relationships and how much you should cherish every moment you get with your loved ones.
Also in theaters
Another adult-oriented release that doesn’t quite reach the same level as “About Time” is “Last Vegas” (C), the all-star comedy that is better than the ads suggest, but still not as good as its very talented cast.
“Last Vegas” revolves around four longtime friends – Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert DeNiro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline).
When Billy announces he is about to be get married, the other three friends decide to throw him a bachelor party in Las Vegas.
The ads suggest another “Hangover”-type film. While there are some moments of craziness, it’s a little more low key than I expected.
Instead, “Last Vegas” is more about how these men are coming to terms with their own mortality and how they use this weekend to reignite the passion of life.
This leads to some overly sentimental moments that most audiences will see coming a mile away.
It’s a credit to the four Academy Award-winning actors that the sappy material isn’t more unbearable as it desperately tries to be sentimental and funny – sometimes in the same scene. Of the foursome, Kline, whom we really haven’t seen much from lately, fares the best.
There is also an interesting performance from another Academy Award winner, Mary Steenburgen, as a lounge singer who befriends the foursome. She proves to be an interesting character, even if she is wedged in to create tension between Billy and Paddy that leads to one of the film’s weaker reveals.
“Last Vegas” isn’t a totally dreadful experience, but it isn’t all that memorable either. It’s probably best viewed when it eventually pops up on cable or Netflix.
“Last Vegas” is rated PG-13 for sexual content and language and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinema in Glasgow.