The Time Traveler's Wife

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Time Traveler's Wife Movie Poster Image
Tearjerker is too gloomy for tweens and younger teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2009
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 25 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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."

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGina C. March 10, 2018
Adult Written bywonder dove April 3, 2013

A heartwarming flick for 14+

The time traveler's wife is a very enjoyable story of a man who travels back and forth in time. When he travels, he disappears and leaves his clothes behin... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byxan98 April 24, 2021

such a waste of time-

im usually REALLY into romance movies, and i also enjoy genres like thriller and horror, and this movie was a bit of all of those. the story is great, believe m... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byClorox bleach June 8, 2020

Not good

This movie sucks

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate