About Time Movie Poster Image

About Time

Sweet time travel romcom with strong language, some sex.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 123 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
A man who is given the gift of time learns that it is precious, and that every moment spent with his loved ones counts. Love, family, and loyalty are all strong themes throughout. The idea that one can find beauty in the small moments of every day is reinforced.
Positive role models
The main character is a genuinely nice fellow,. He rarely abuses his time travel powers, and when he does it's in a sweet, funny way rather than in any way that hurts others. He is devoted to his family and demonstrates commitment to those he is closest to.
A character gets into a drunk driving accident that is not graphic. She is seen in the hospital with some scratches and bruises. It is also alluded to that her boyfriend may be abusive toward her, but nothing definitive is said or shown. Some angry arguments and a few comic punches.
The movie has no nudity, but characters definitely think about and talk about sex. The main character spends a summer obsessing over a pretty houseguest and hoping to sleep with her. He later meets the girl of his dreams on a date, and uses his time travel gift to have sex with her several times in one night though only a bit of kissing and the humorous aftermath is visible. He also kisses a girl at a New Year's Eve party. A woman's naked breasts are visible in a photo art exhibit.
Language is very strong, despite the film's sweet nature. "F--k" is heard several times, as well as "s--t," and this phrase: "oh my assing God." A middle finger gesture is shown.
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
The main character's sister has a drinking problem that she overcomes. She is also said to be living with an abusive boyfriend who also has a drinking problem. She leaves that relationship and takes up with a nice guy. Otherwise, characters generally drink socially throughout the film, such as at dinner or at a New Year's Eve party.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that About Time is a sweet comic romance with a time travel element that shows characters with strong family ties, who are interested in settling down and raising new families. Though there's no nudity, sex is an issue; characters often talk about or think about sex, and we see couples in bed after presumed sex. Language is also fairly strong, with several uses of "f--k," some uses of "s--t," and one use of this phrase: "oh my assing God." The main character's sister is described as being in an abusive relationship and has a drinking problem. She gets into a drunk driving accident, and is shown in the hospital with some scratches and bruises.

What's the story?

After turning 21, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) has a discussion with his father (Bill Nighy) and learns that he has the ability to travel through time to any point in his own life. He spends a summer learning to use his gift and fails to win his summer crush, a pretty blonde houseguest. One night, he meets Mary (Rachel McAdams) and falls in love. Unfortunately, he learns that by changing other events that happened that night, he hasn't actually met her yet. So he must re-meet Mary and win her again. More complications arise when he learns that his time traveling affects his children. But as his time destinations become more limited, he begins learning deeper and more profound lessons about life.

Is it any good?

This is a low-key and heartwarming entertainment. One of our finest comedy writers, Richard Curtis worked on beloved British TV shows like Mr. Bean and Black Adder before making a splash in movies with Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones's Diary. His directorial debut was the wonderful Love Actually. But as he continued directing, it became clear that he did not grasp brevity; all of his films run over two hours. Moreover, in addition to being precious about his material, Curtis has also become precious about his characters; nobody in ABOUT TIME is really tested in any serious way. The movie goes easy on them.
But aside from that, the characters are really loveable and their relationships are delightfully old-fashioned and touching. Bill Nighy in particular gives a wonderful performance. Neither the father-son story nor the love story is given more weight, and the time travel aspect never takes over. (It's also refreshingly free of visual effects.)

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's attitude toward sex. Do characters seem more interested in casual sex or in establishing deeper connections? How does this message differ from traditional Hollywood movies?
  • What would you do if you had time travel powers like Tim's? Would you help others?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the family relationships in the movie? How are we supposed to feel about the family?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 1, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:February 4, 2014
Cast:Bill Nighy, Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams
Director:Richard Curtis
Studio:Universal Pictures
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Brothers and sisters
Run time:123 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some sexual content

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Parent of a 12 year old Written bycrankylibrarian November 11, 2013

A love story between father and son

The ads and reviews for this film are a little misleading: although the romantic relationship is highlighted initially, it gradually moves into the background and the story focuses on the love between a father and son, and that son and his own children. Due to his time traveling gift, Tim eventually has to choose between living in the past with his father, or moving forward with his young family. What a wonderful metaphor for the choices we all make between the past and the future, the known and the unknown, stability and risk. Great stuff to discuss with young teens, but beware: if you've recently lost a close relative this will be a heart-breaker.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bygbsfan November 3, 2013

Great feel-good movie

It was really good. It was funny and had a good storyline. I liked most of the characters. The characters did talk about sex a lot and there was some bad language in it. Some of the characters made comments that were inappropriate and I felt were unnecessary, but overall, it was a good movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah November 10, 2013

Very cute, rather witty, obscenely long.

The premise always intrigued me and it looked cute, which it is. This entire movie is really cute. Right from the beginning, it's witty, super charming, and has very good performances. I don't know what it is about Bill Nighy but I've always liked him (namely in Shaun of the Dead), and he might be the best part of this movie in regards to the cast. Everyone has good chemistry. They act like real people (what?!) and nicely play off of each other. There's also some great cinematography; it isn't award-worthy or jaw-dropping like Skyfall or Eyes Wide Shut, but it does justice to its scenery and enhances the movie's adorableness. All these things kept me steadily entertained and involved for a long while, but this movie is over two hours, which is obscenely long. I was itching to leave after the 85 minute mark but I instead had to wait through many repeated and contrived plot devices for another 38 minutes. I don't know if I'd call the film self-indulgent or anything, but it honestly didn't know when to stop with its premise. The second and third acts sort of blur together because the latter half of the movie simply inserts rather useless or excessive plots just so we can say, "Whoa! Time travel is amazing!" If they cut out half an hour off, it would have been way better. 6.9/10, good, one thumb up, above average, etc.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism