“ Genre: Comedy / Theatrical Release: 2009 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Gareth Carrivick / Actors: Dean Lennox Kelly, John Snowden, Marc Wootton, John Warman, Chris O'Dowd ... / DVD released 2009-09-07 at Lions Gate Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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In my most recent other review (for political/psychological thriller, Unthinkable), I mentioned how exciting it can be to stumble upon a film you've never heard of before but that looks intriguing. Just as, if not even more, exciting as that, is stumbling upon something and heading into it without the first clue what it's going to be like, or even what it's about. As it was with Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, when I came across it one evening while flicking through the catch-up TV listings looking for something unusual to watch. And boy-oh-boy, did I find something unusual! I know I'm late to the party (this was first released in April 2009), but it really is encouraging to know that every now and again there can be something as enjoyable as this made on such a low budget, with such a talented bunch of performers. My mother joined me in viewing this halfway through and, even having missed the vital opening scenes, enjoyed it thoroughly and is desperate to see it the whole way through. Now my sister has seen it as well, and is equally desperate for a sequel. Something I have to say will never happen, but would be wonderful to see.
Chris O'Dowd is Ray, a science fiction (NOT sci-fi) and time-travel obsessive whose job it is to teach kids about time-travel in a fun and exciting way. Except that, one day, he goes way too far, scaring his pupils to the point of tears and vomiting and getting himself fired in the process. While being consoled by his two closest friends, Toby and Pete (Marc Wootton and Dean Lennox Kennedy respectively), they all decide to go down the local for a few pints and debate away the night as usual. Things take an interesting turn however, when Ray goes to the other side of the bar and encounters Cassie (the delightful Anna Faris), who claims to be a 'fan' from the future who has jumped at the opportunity to meet the Great Ray while trying to find and fix a time leak in the area. Convinced his friends have set this up, Ray relays the story only for his friends to think he's making it up. That is, until Pete later exits the men's room in a distant future where everyone in the pub has been violently killed. He manages to find his way back to the present, but when he tries to show Ray and Toby what happened, so will begin an adventure that will change all of their lives forever...
I'm a big fan of Chris O'Dowd and his ability to be massively charming while truly hilarious at times, so I was excited to find that he was in this. While very similar to the way he tends to be in most things, he gives a typically excellent performance here. As do the rest of the cast, ensuring that this excellently written, very cleverly played out little film is kept funny and engaging the whole way through. Where this film excels the most is in its pretty seamless storytelling - something with which its writer, Jamie Matheson, must be most highly credited. I don't claim to be an expert on the subject of time travel, but I think it's fair to say we've all seen some pretty poorly laid-out storylines around the concept in the past. Not so here, though, where everything ties up very cleverly towards the end and every now and again is a cute little nod to a seemingly inconsequential part of the story from earlier in the film.
My one gripe would be with a scene towards the end (the start of the climactic sequence, I suppose) where things almost unravel and become a bit silly. It gets reined in eventually, but for a few minutes there the film becomes akin to that play your kids did in the living room, when the big bad guy appears out of nowhere to tiresomely explain their motivations. Aside from that one blip, however, this is mostly really enjoyable stuff. By turns funny and intriguing, silly and engaging, frat-boyish but very sweet at times, it seems rare these days to stumble across something this good without having had it rammed down your throat as a must-see at some point in the past.
Going back to my sister's point about wishing there was a sequel: Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is one of those experiences I suspect many people will come out of wanting more. I certainly felt that a sequel could be warranted, or even that it would have been brilliant if this had been a pilot for a television series. There's plenty here for them to have expanded on even more, and the characters are so likeable that you'd be more than happy to find out what happens next. Also, with some brilliant and frequently funny nods to other time travel series like Back to the Future and Doctor Who included, there's also a lot of material out there that they could have taken inspiration from. With Chris O'Dowd now headed to much bigger things, and with director Gareth Carrivick having unfortunately died in 2010, it's unlikely that we'll ever see more of the adventures of Ray, Toby, Pete and Cassie. While that is a real shame, as this is the kind of thing could have garnered a real cult following if it had been marketed correctly and had continued in the same vein, it's not exactly the end of the world. Or is it? Only time will tell...
FAQ About Time Travel - FILM ONLY REVIEW
Running time: 83 minutes
Price: Amazon £4.93 / free to watch online for Lovefilm subscribers
Feeling like a cross between the spirit of Douglas Adams, Shaun of the Dead and one of those BBC3 comedies, FAQ About Time Travel is a cheerfully low budget film that offers a funny new take on the well-worn theme of temporal transportation. Taking a script by debut feature-length scriptwriter Jamie Mathieson, put together by BBC director Gareth Carrivick, and starring a cast of people who we mostly recognise from the television, the film manages to pull together a solid enough framework to justify this story being made into a movie with an (albeit very limited) cinematic release. And what's more, it's a film that shows that the British film industry can still offer up better comic fare than many other recent lamentable offerings (Sex Lives of the Potato Men, I'm looking at you).
Following the loss of his dead-end job, Ray (Chris O'Dowd) and his two mates Toby (Mark Wootton) and Pete (Dean Lennox Kelly) head to the local pub to let off some steam over a couple of pints. When Ray heads to the bar to buy his round, he bumps into Cassie (Anna Farris), a girl who seems to know a lot about him, but who he can't recall ever having met before. When Cassie reveals that she has travelled there from the future to meet "the great Ray" on her way to finding and fixing a time leak in the vicinity, Ray suspects that his mates have put her up to it to make fun of his obsession with science fiction. Toby, a failed writer and fellow geek, thinks that Ray's encounter might make a good story line, whereas cynic Pete dismisses the whole thing as nonsense and heads off to the gents. On his way back to his seat, Pete stumbles through the time leak that Cassie was looking for and sees a terrifying glimpse of the future. With only Toby now remaining unconvinced that there is something decidedly odd going on in the pub that evening, the lads try to reconstruct what happened to Pete. This starts a series of accidental trips forward and back in time as the three friends try to frantically find out what is going on and why.
Time travel may be far from a new plot device, but it works in this film by taking out the flux capacitors, spaceships, glowing portals and complex explanations, and instead using a simple "it happens" approach in an ordinary setting with ordinary blokes. We therefore have more time to concentrate on the possibilities thrown up by the chronological chaos and have to spend less on trying to understand the reasoning behind it. The roots of the story in the science fiction genre are not forgotten, though, and references to other well-known films are peppered throughout the plot, giving the geekier viewers an extra layer of enjoyment as they try to spot them. The film poster / DVD cover referencing Back to the Future Part 3 is an obvious one, quotes from Alien and Flash Gordon are also quite easy to pick up on, and Ray's donning of a red hoodie is awfully reminiscent of Elliot in E.T.; the background poster for a film called Paradox was a subtler touch, and hinted at the original title for the second Back to the Future film. I'm sure other viewers will have spotted plenty of other references that slipped past me.
FAQ About Time Travel is a quirky film, and I found it engaging and surprisingly funny, although it did have a few rough edges (Toby's joke about finding Narnia when they were hiding from their past selves in a cupboard fell embarrassingly flat for me) and it clearly suffered from lack of budget. I did like that the low budget special effects were nicely exploited by dressing the visitors from the future in the sort of shiny silver gear that wouldn't look out of place in an early (and equally low budget) episode of Doctor Who, though. However, despite its shortcomings, the logistics of what could be a difficult plot to film are well worked out, with the multiple groups of the lads trying to avoid each other within a confined setting is impressively done, and the timelines of the plot never confusing to the viewer. The comic performances - especially from Dean Lennox Kelly - were a pleasure to watch, and there is plenty to amuse the audience even when they are not a fan of science fiction in general.
This film will never be the next Back to the Future, Bill and Ted or Shaun of the Dead, but it was far funnier than the recent film adaption of A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and really deserves to be more widely known. How much you enjoy it will depend to a degree on your geek quotient, but there is lot to offer an audience who want something funny, silly and a bit out of the ordinary.
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is a British comedy about three social outcasts who spent a very long time in a pub! It was written by Jamie Mathieson and starred Chris O'Dowd, Dean Lennox Kelly, Marc Wootton and
Anna Faris. It was released on April 24th, 2009 and produced by BBC Films and
After spending a very uneventful day at work, three friends retire to the local pub after watching a poor film at the cinema. On the way there they discuss what would make the perfect movie, writing their idea down in a notebook while enjoying their drinks. While Ray goes to the bar for another round he is approached by Cassie, who delivers the teaser lines "I've read everything about you. Of course, from your perspective those books haven't been written yet." Believing the woman has been paid by his friends to wind him up, Ray returns to his seat to let them know that he won't be fooled. It's then, on a seemingly ordinary toilet break, that the night begins to get weird...
I won't tell you any more of the plot than that, because after the first twenty minutes of the film it really starts on a rollercoaster of a ride that would ruin the film if I even hinted at what happened.
I did find this film incredibly funny, intensely interesting and by far the cleverest film I had seen in a long, long time. By playing around with the idea of time travel and making references to the genre in several gags, the film kept me spellbound long after the closing credits. I did go straight back to the beginning to watch it all again.
I'd recommend this film for anyone who enjoyed 'Back to the Future', 'Shaun of the Dead' or 'The I.T. Crowd'.
The movie makes many references to other science fiction films and frequently plays with the concepts discussed in other films, concepts as far ranging as those taken from 'Terminator' and 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure'.
The movie poster parodies the 'Back to the Future' trilogy and later in the movie Cassie delivers the line "I love you, Ray, but we only have 14 hours to save the Earth", referring to the film Flash Gordon.
It would be a good test to see how many you can spot!
Ray: "Hey, didn't we all agree to stop using the 'N' word? Didn't we?"
Pete: "Nerd is the word they use to keep us down."
Ray: "You should use the term, 'Imagineer'."
"Watch a British comedy film? You could not pay me to watch one! If they are not written by Richard Curtis they are some stupid inappropriate comedy about sex lives of potato men or suicides on the underground." This is an argument that a lot of people will feel when they think about the modern British comedy films, long gone are the glory days of Ealing and for the past few years there have been enough stinkers to turn a lot of people off. This is a real shame as although never released on Cinema screens and never advertised well there are a few hidden gems that we've produced. 'Kinky Boots' is a fun film (limited cinema release) and 'Death at a Funeral' was one of the best comedies of 2007 (so much so it's getting an awful looking remake). The slurry of rubbish should not stop you from seeking out the great stuff. In which camp would 'FAQ About Time Travel' come under - another potato man, or a hidden gem?
Ray loves his job at the local theme park as presenter of their science fiction ride. Perhaps he loves the job a little too much as he gets into character and scares the kids. Therefore, the newly unemployed Ray goes to drown his sorrows in the Local Pub with best pals Toby and Pete. Together they make an odd trio, Ray and his obsession with science fiction, Toby and his attempts to write the ultimate book and Pete a snidey bloke who does not really understand why he hangs out with the other two. Their relationship will only get closer when Pete goes to the toilet; unbeknownst to him there is a time leaks whilst he leaks. Now the trio are on an adventure through time as they try to get back to their present era whilst stopping a massacre they have seen in the future. Can they stop bickering long enough to survive?
After seeing 'FAQ' I am glad to say that this film sits squarely in the camp as a hidden gem. I had not heard of the film before renting it and was not expecting much; what I got was a very funny film with a tight script and a classy cast. Chris O'Dowd, Marc Wootton and Dean Lennox Kelly as the leads are enough to make the film watchable. All have done great work before with O'Dowd reprising a similar role to that of Roy in 'The IT Crowd'. Wootton is also excellent as the slightly offish Toby, but it is perhaps Kelly as the meaner Pete who is the best. He is not given the most sympathetic role, but like the other main cast members he has great comic timing and can read a line well.
As an added bonus to film fans Anna Faris appears in an extended cameo as a time traveller sent to plug the leak. I'm not a huge fan of her work, but she is not in the film that much and is a good foil for Ray's shy attraction. I'm assuming that her casting was a large part of how this film was given the green light.
As a script it is brilliant. Like the best modern TV comedy it is full of good humour and wry observations. The flaw could be that perhaps it feels a little too TV orientated. There are special effects and the film is about time travel, but in essence the majority of the film is set in one or two sets around the Pub. Personally, I did think that it transcended the small screen feel and was a proper film with a good story arc and some character development. As a first time film director Gareth Carrivick has developed his skills as seen on shows like 'The Smoking Room', yet retained the quintessential British humour that makes the film so much fun.
As a 15 certificate I was a little worried that there may be some violence, but it's just for the course language which is quite adult at times - yet in context with three lads ribbing one another. The film is a triumph that is only let down by the obvious lack of finance for high end special effects etc. However, I felt that Carrivick benefits like a lot of early directors from a limited budget. It forces you to concentrate on story and comedy to get you through and in these areas the film shines. There are three stellar comedy performances at the centre of this film that make it genuinely funny and laugh out loud. I recommend this for film fans looking for a great Great British comedy.
Director: Gareth Carrivick
Starring: Chris O'Dowd, Marc Wootton, Dean Lennox Kelly and Anna Faris
Price: Amazon uk £7.48
CD Wow £11.99
I can't remember any extras on the disc, but the film is worth it alone - especially as it has come down in price already.
**Film only review**
I have always been fascinated with the concept of Time-travel and over the years have watched films that have dealt with this complex matter. The Butterfly Effect and The Philadelphia Experiment come to mind as good examples of films that deal with what could happen if time-travel were possible, and when I saw "FAQ about Time Travel" listed on Lovefilm I had to add it to my list.
A joint venture between the BBC and HBO this film stars three male British actors and are supported by American actress Anna Faris. Ray (Chris O'Dowd) has just been fired from his job and so his mates Toby and Pete (Marc Wooton and Dean Lennox Kelly) take him to the local pub to try and cheer him up. It's whilst at the pub that Ray meets Cassie who says she is a Time Traveller who has come back in time to mend a "Time Leak". Ray thinks this is a set-up by his mates as they know how much of a geek Ray is when it comes to time-travel and so plays along with Cassie.
When rejoining his mates he comments about Cassie and thanks his mates for the wind up and explains what Cassie has told him about them all being famous in the future but there is a problem with time that Cassie has to fix. Pete excuses himself and goes to the toilet only to return a few minutes later to see that everyone including himself has been killed and that the "dead" Pete now has a beard. Deciding to re-trace his steps he goes back into the toilet, does everything he did the first time round and re-enters the pub to find everything back to normal.
Realising that Ray had been right about Cassie he tells his friends what has just happened and with Ray knowing the "rules" about time travel they all go into the toilet to see if time switches again. It does, and realising that the "Time Leak" is actually situated in the Gents Toilet the 3 friends have made a paradox which they cannot undo...
What follows is a funny and intelligent film that deals with paradoxes and time travel, as Ray is a Science Fiction fan he thinks he knows the rules about meeting yourself in the past and future and knows about the "Chaos Theory" and the "Grandfather Paradox" (which I won't even begin to explain as they are far too complicated, Google if you want to know!) Knowing that the 3 men cannot meet themselves or touch their past and future selves they must try and fix the paradox and figure out why Pete saw them all dead.
Anna Faris (recognisable from Scary Movie) plays a brilliant Cassie who tries to help Ray and his friends and she helps explain the "time leak" and the paradoxes it opens, the three lead men are British actors who you will have seen in other films and Television programmes and play their parts well. Of course being a time travel film you do have to suspend belief and go along with the flow of the film, my best tip is try not to think about things as they are happening and allow yourself to watch the film before working it out in your head. Time travel and paradoxes can be a bit of a head-mess so don't watch whilst drunk or sleepy as you will not follow the story at all!
All in all I really enjoyed this film, at 83 minutes it felt the right time only having 4 characters plus a few non speaking extra's the film is carried by Ray and his friends. Any longer and it would have resembled "Groundhog Day" which really did annoy me as this seemed to go on and on and on!
The film doesn't rely on CGI effects or amazing set-pieces it simply follows the 3 men and the paradox they have made which seems to be spiralling out of control. Available from online DVD rental companies or Blockbuster if you want to rent, to buy it will set you back £7.38 from Amazon but should be cheaper on Ebay or Amazon Market Place.
4/5 Dooyoo stars for me, not losing a star for anything other than personal opinion. I enjoyed it a lot but feel it wasn't perfect so doesn't deserve a perfect score!
Directed by Gareth Carrivick, 'Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel' is a British film which could be described as a direct cross between 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Doctor Who'.
Nerdy 'Ray' (Chris O'Dowd), gets fired from his job at the local theme park, and goes off to the pub with his mates (the equally nerdy) 'Toby' (Marc Wootton), and 'Pete' (Dean Lennox Kelly). After chatting about Toby's ridiculous ambitions to be a sci-fi screenwriter, Ray heads off to the bar and bumps into 'Cassie' (Anna Faris) who claims she's from the future. Thinking that his friends must have set the whole thing up, Ray returns to his understandably bemused mates who assume he has gone a little crazy. Pete experiences an even more unusual experience firsthand however, when he takes a trip to the loo and returns to find himself in another time...
The movie takes a complex theme (in the form of time travel) and places it in the heart of a British boozer - the result is a really watcheable film which kept me entertained throughout. After the shaky start (I didn't find the humour in the first ten minutes or so to be that funny), things improve dramatically and there are some real laugh-out-loud moments to be had. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is a clever film - and when combined with the fact that our three protagonists aren't the sharpest of individuals, the end result is a series of paradoxes and time leaks which prevent the buddies from returning to their own time.
The acting is of a generally decent standard, with Chris O'Dowd ('The I.T Crowd' & 'The Boat that Rocked') showing that he's got a decent grasp of comedic timing. Similarly, Dean Lennox Kelly ('Shameless') plays the serious guy well. Marc Wootton's character is the chap that ends up being the butt of most jokes, and like both O'Dowd and Kelly, he is pretty good performance-wise. Most importantly, there is a good chemistry between all the characters, which helps creates a similar dynamic to that which made 'Red Dwarf' so watcheable.
Unfortunately for Ray, Toby, and Pete, time travel is a dangerous pastime, and they come across a band of assassins called 'The Editors', who jump through time and space with intent to kill. Chief Editor 'Millie' (Meredith MacNeill) is stalking the guys through history, leading to a deadly confrontation towards the climax of the film. Personally I found the ending to be a little poor, and MacNeill didn't really make an authentic baddie - that however, was one of the only wealkenesses I found with the film.
It's great to watch a movie which you think is going to be a bit rubbish, which then turns out to be really good - and that's exactly what I experienced with Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel. If you want to watch a funny and entirely watcheable comedy, then you can't go too far wrong with this one - highly recommended.
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Chris O'Dowd - Ray
Marc Wootton - Toby
Dean Lennox Kelly - Pete
Anna Faris - Cassie
Meredith MacNeill - Millie
You can currently purchase the DVD version of Frequently Askd Questions About Time Travel for £7.98 from Amazon.