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Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (DVD)
Member Name: collingwood21
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (DVD)
Advantages: Funny, Well plotted, Film fans will enjoy spotting all the references to other movies
Disadvantages: Clearly low budget, Some lines fell a bit flat
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.
Summary: A film about time travel if it were to happen to three ordinary blokes in a pub