Review: 'The Time Traveler's Wife'

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

Sappy love story stumbles in the logic department and is thin on real romance, too.

Alan Markfield/AP
Rachel McAdams as Clare, left, and Eric Bana as Henry in New Line Cinema's romantic drama "The Time Traveler's Wife".

I'll let you in on a little secret that film critics have known for years. A major studio production, released in August with top-list stars, is almost certain to be a gobbler. Case in point, "The Time Traveler's Wife," based on a bestselling novel by Audrey Niffenegger that, one assumes, makes a mite more sense than the movie that has been melted down from it.

Eric Bana plays Henry, the eponymous time traveler who was born with a genetic defect enabling him, against his will or conscious intervention, to flit back and forth in time. Whenever he passes into another zone he rapidly dissolves into thin air, leaving his clothes behind in a heap. This means he's buck naked whenever and wherever he reappears. You would think that the director Robert Schwentke and the screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin ("Ghost") would try to milk a few laughs out of Henry's predicament, but laughs are not on the menu here. Neither is logic, thrills, or romance. Henry's wife Clare, played by Rachel McAdams, wears out her smile muscles trying to put up with a husband who, at any moment, can suddenly vanish, only to reappear sometime later as a younger, or older, version of himself. Again, this could have been the basis for some terrific comedy – talk about errant husbands! – but the filmmakers are after bigger, mythic game. They miss by a mile – or should I say, a light-year. Grade: D- (Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity, and sexuality.)

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.