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The Time Traveler's Wife
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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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.