Review: FAQ About Time Travel (2009 movie)

The trailer and clips I saw on YouTube piqued my interest, but Netflix had never heard of it, nor had any of my usual on-line sources of DVDs. I came close to seeing it on HBO at a hotel last summer (it’s an HBO-BBC co-production), but HBO has a strict policy of never running things I want to see when I’m in a hotel with HBO, instead scheduling them just before I arrive or after I check out.

Finally I broke down and ordered the British version of the DVD (in PAL and supposedly restricted to viewing in Region 2, but my older Philips DVD player can handle that), and while the film isn't the greatest thing since pickles, I'm glad I went to the trouble.

The opening scene was admittedly a disappointment, but then came a scene in which the three protagonists are chatting in a cafe. One of them, played by Irish actor Chris O’Dowd (Kristen Wiig’s love interest in Bridesmaids and one of the stars of the British sitcom The IT Crowd), is annoyed to learn that the other two had a bet about how long it would take him to mention time travel. “I do talk about other things, you know.”

“Like what?” asks his cynical friend Pete (Dean Lennox Kelly). “Sky fi?”

“How many times… It’s not ‘sci fi’, Pete, it’s ‘science fiction’, or ‘sf’, which can also stand for ‘speculative fiction’.”

Egad! I exclaimed. An actual sf fan!

Later the three of them are at the pub, and when O’Dowd goes off to buy a round he finds the main bar so mobbed he steps into the smaller adjacent room (“the snug”) which has a bar of its own. There Anna Faris surprises him by introducing herself as a visitor from the future in town to repair a time leak. Her favorite thing about the job, she tells him, is getting to meet famous people, sometimes even before they’re famous, as in his case.

This is all a little too good to be true, and back at the table he accuses his friends of perpetrating a practical joke. They in turn accuse him of making it all up.

But then Pete the cynic goes to the gents’ and comes back shaken, claiming to have fallen through a hole in time and seen something horrible in the near future, so of course the other two now think he’s making it up, until the three of them wind up doing the time warp again and realize it’s for real.

“So what do we do now, Ray?” Pete asks O’Dowd.

“What?”

“This is your thing.”

“This is not my thing. My thing is sitting on my arse reading books about this shit, not actually being in it.”

Naturally matters only get worse, with even more disturbing glimpses into a more distant future. (“Little bit weird,” O’Dowd says to the others at one point, “but turns out everybody in the future -- American.”)

One reviewer wrote that Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel has more the feel of a sitcom episode than a movie, and I admit it’s not quite as clever or funny as I’d hoped. I would also have preferred more Anna Faris. (Really, you can never have too much Anna Faris.) But I enjoyed it, and should you someday run across it, maybe on HBO or a streaming Internet service if you live in North America, I think it’s at least worth a look.

Link: http://youtu.be/a6SVDNQmyA4

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