“The TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE” (Rachel McAdams & Eric Bana)
It didn’t take Eric Bana long to wear out all of the accolades I laid upon him for his appearance in 'Star Trek' – seeing ‘Un-Funny People’ & this film on back-to-back weekends really pointed out how ‘stiff’ an actor he is when not playing an evil alien leader. & once again we are slapped in the face with yet ANOTHER time traveling escapade that wears out ITS welcome long before the ending credits begin to roll.
Bana plays Henry, who has been ‘afflicted’ with a time traveling gene since childhood. Henry bounces back & forth thru time confined by the years of his own life. In the opening scenes (Stop here if you don’t want to know how the story begins – since it happens in the first 10 minutes I figure its all right to relate) Henry is a small boy sitting in the back seat of a car driven by his mother. Mom is trying to encourage little Henry to sing with her but he is reluctant. It is a snowy night & the roads are icy. As an out of control truck slides into their lane, Henry’s mother slams on her brakes & the boy vanishes from the back seat. Henry reappears naked by the side of the road just as his mother’s car collides with the truck (& the obligatory fiery explosion occurs) Eric Bana, as grown up Henry suddenly appears beside Henry with a blanket to wrap around his younger self. He tells himself “You just time traveled, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
So right off the bat, I have a big problem with this story. Little Henry didn’t ‘time travel’, he was ‘beamed’ out of the car & transplanted to safety - & I know Scotty didn’t do it because he hates Romulans & wouldn’t save ones life for all the Scottish whiskey in the universe.
The story then begins to focus on Claire (Rachel McAdams) the time traveler’s wife-to-be. This film has to be her weakest performance to date – she seems to let her dimples & high cheek bones do all her acting for her. Yes, she’s cute & adorable whenever she shines the coy smirk, but that’s about All she does in this - & she’s the Title Character!
One of the problems with this film is casting – McAdams & Bana have zero chemistry (My choice would have been to replace Bana even though Rachel was disappointing, perhaps she would have sparkled more with a different co-star)
In fact, the only chemistrial* spark that lights up is in the scenes between grown up Henry & Claire as an elementary school child – which is ‘ultra-creepy’ when you realize Henry is going to have sex with the little cherub later on in her life. (*Yes, I made up my own word, it fit, so why not?)
I’d call this a ‘low-brow’ ‘Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ in that an interesting story could have been made from this premise, but it isn’t the one the filmmaker chooses to tell. & I don’t mean to over-praise ‘TTW’ or slam ‘CCoBB’ by comparing the two – they are both based on characters with an oddity. & I thought ‘Benjamin Button’ should have focused more on how Benjamin dealt with his situation rather than turn it into a sappy romance - & the same goes here. Henry’s troubled existence opened up a wide variety of interesting paths to take – Instead they center on his affair with Claire, bringing nothing new to the table; Claire is like a jilted wife being cheated on by her ‘never there when she needs him’ husband.
& I won't get into the lazy make-up departments piss poor job of aging both Bana & McAdams as they play their characters from early 20's into their 40's & the only way to tell that Henry is older is due to a few streaks of grey in his hair & McAdams doesn't change at all except she is given a long haired wig to wear to represent Claire in her late teens.
& my final problem with this story is that after they lay out the rules of Henry’s time traveling abilities, they break them without any explanation as to why he was able to appear in years that didn’t fall within his lifetime. As if we, the audience, are just supposed to sit there & go “wasn’t that sweet?” Well, I didn’t go ‘Wasn’t that sweet?’
I went ‘Huh???’