The Time Traveler's Wife
Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
Adults, Teens, Family
Sci-Fi, Romance, Drama, Adaptation
1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release:
August 14, 2009 (wide—2,700 theaters)
DVD: February 9, 2010
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” is a movie with a wonderful premise but mediocre execution. It is the story of a man who involuntarily “slips” back and forth through time. The absurdities of the time slipping need not be explained, and frankly would have been better off not being explained (a genetic disorder is apparently to blame… a “chronogene”). Nevertheless, his body is attracted to family members and loved ones, thus appearing at various times in history to his wife and family.
It is based on a book, and I suspect the book is far better than the movie. The problems with the film begin with poor pacing and an underdeveloped script. Were it not for Rachel McAdams, I would never have believed in the romance at all. She did a wonderful job convincing me that she was really in love with this man, but the script (as we have come to expect from Hollywood) has him having sex with her on their first date, followed by the inexplicable line “how did we meet?”
Now, it is not surprising that sex scenes are the only way that Hollywood seems to know to “show” love, but, in real life people, have sex without love all the time. Bollywood develops romance without sex by developing characters and by displaying acts of sacrifice and commitment. Hollywood just has an obligatory sex scene… but I digress.
The first half of the film seems to set the story, and the second half starts to become interesting, and yet I still felt incomplete. The potential for a great movie was there, but as it was filmed, it was a tedious plodding of time slipping and nude scenes with a poignant ending. As our hero slips in and out of time, he is supposed to look different ages, but only once did he really appear different to me. The rest of the time he looked the same age. It was as if the director or make-up artist didn’t take the time to really anticipate what the actor would look like in ten or twenty years. Only once did a smattering of gray hairs effect his appearance.
For the Christian viewer, the movie poses several problems. The first is nudity. For some reason, the idea of traveling through time nude has become a science fiction cliche. Exactly why this is has never been explained. Nevertheless, each time he travels through time he appears naked and must steal clothes. In one case, he steals women’s clothes and gets into a fight with a “homphobe.” His wife also shows her behind in one scene, as well.
With the addition of the foul language, which is fairly heavy, this movie borders on an R rating, though there is only one really violent scene. Politically, the movie is largely neutral, although there is a joke about marrying into a “bad family.” We are told, “her father is a Republican… AND a hunter!” Disgusted, they decide to be “tolerant,” but this foreshadows something that happens later in the film, which could easily be taken as a slap shot at hunters.
Now this is by no means a bad film… just an incomplete one. By that I mean that the movie feels incomplete to me. Rachel McAdams made me believe in the love story, but the script never did. By the time the subplot involving children develops, half the film has been wasted. The rather poignant ending redeems the film to some degree, and I am sure that the film will find its niche among some fans, but I cannot give it a thumbs up… especially for Christian audiences. Far better, and more believable love stories (I am not referring to the science fiction element, but the love story itself) have been made over the years. Wait until DVD for this one.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.