The Time Traveler's Wife



Tearjerker is too gloomy for tweens and younger teens.
  • Review Date: August 13, 2009
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 107 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though parts of the film are quite gloomy, there’s an overall sense that life is full of meaning and love. Clare adores Henry as he is and not as she imagines him to be, which is admirable.

Positive role models

Clare and Henry are devoted to each other, despite the huge challenges they face. They do quarrel and pull away from each other at times, but inevitably, love wins out. Henry commits some petty crimes (stealing, breaking and entering, cheating) out of necessity due to his condition -- he doesn't shy away from doing these things, but it's clear that he wishes he didn't have to. You could argue that Henry manipulates Clare's life unfairly, but for the most part she doesn't seem to mind.


Early in the movie, there are some perilous/fiery scenes of an intense car accident. There's also some fistfighting (with some injuries), and a man is shot and is shown bleeding. Characters hunt with rifles. A woman bleeds heavily during a miscarriage. A man gets slapped after speaking harshly to a woman.


A couple gets in bed a few times and is shown passionately kissing and caressing each other; they later appear below the sheets with their shoulders bared -- when she gets out of bed, you see her naked from the rear (including buttocks). Several shots of Henry naked from behind/sideways, but the only sensitive body part shown is his buttocks. One scene shows Clare in the bath, but only her stomach and extremities are visible.


Language includes "s--t" (several times, often as a reaction to seeing Henry disappear for the first time...), "a--hole," "damn," "hell," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," and  "oh my God."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Two characters are chided for drinking too much, though both seem to recover/give it up. Some social drinking (wine, beer, etc.) by adults.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this tearjerker, though romantic, may prove too gloomy for tweens and younger teens. The central couple shares a powerful love, but their relationship is constantly tested, sometimes to the breaking point, and there are few moments of levity. Expect some nudity (though primarily in a non-sexual context), swearing ("s--t" is the strongest word used), and a few bloody, though not gory, scenes. There’s also discussion of heavy topics like free will, miscarriage, death, and losing a parent.

What's the story?

Clare (Rachel McAdams) and Henry (Eric Bana) are star-crossed lovers who meet and are torn apart by a unique genetic condition that arbitrarily sends him time traveling. When they first meet (from her perspective, anyway), he’s in his thirties and she’s still a young girl -- but they form an unlikely friendship that transcends space and time. And, eventually (or, from the start, from his perspective), they wind up together. But even their tremendous love may not be enough to sustain a relationship hobbled by Henry’s sudden absences and Clare’s longing for a stable life.

Is it any good?


For a film about the metaphysical, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE is curiously lacking in energy. It starts out far too explanatory, like a wannabe friend who overshares. While it’s true that the audience needs prodding given the material -- how to make time travel approachable? -- it nevertheless seems questionable to keep inserting explanations that have been heard before. (For instance, why Henry keeps stealing clothes wherever he turns up.)

The time-travel jump cuts make the film all the more befuddling, and although Henry’s supposed to morph in age from one time period to the next, all that ever seems to change is how many wrinkles he sports and how gray his hair gets. It’s not until midway through the movie, when questions about Henry’s genetic makeup arise, that the film begins to really transport you -- and, by the end, it does get very emotional. (How can it not, given the heavy tugging? After all, the melancholic piano is cued at every tragic turn.) But still, somehow the end result is more tepid than tearjerking.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what keeps Clare and Henry connected despite all of their difficulties. Is their life together believable? Would Clare really stay with Henry when he's so unpredictable? How does their relationship compare to other movie pairings you've seen?

  • Does the film handle the topic of time travel believably (as much as is possible, that is)? Does it seem like a benefit or a curse?

  • If you've read the book, how do you think the movie compares? What are some of your favorite books-turned-movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 14, 2009
DVD release date:February 9, 2010
Cast:Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston
Director:Robert Schwentke
Studio:New Line
Run time:107 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byjess_a_lou1121 August 19, 2010

Great movie about love and devotion

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old February 17, 2010

Read The Book First

I read the book and want to see this movie. I think it should be iffy for 14 because (if it follows the book) there is a lot of sex and drugs involved. Also some swearing. Very good book though!! P.S. The rating is for the BOOK! NOT the movie! :)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byMoviefan15 August 20, 2014

Romantic tearjerker

The Time Traveler's Wife movie was a cleaner version of the book. There's one sex scene at the beginning, but that's really easy to fast forward. A man is seen naked (nothing graphic) and bleeding. The story is a little sad but it is overall a very romantic and sweet movie.


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