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About Time (Review)

15/08/2013 17:25 BST | Updated 14/10/2013 10:12 BST

In Richard Curtis' latest romantic comedy, Tim (played by Domhnall Gleeson) discovers on his 21st birthday that he comes from a line of men who can travel back in time - and all he wants to do with this amazing ability is get a girlfriend. Yes, this film is just as dull as it sounds.

Curtis recycles characters and scenarios from his other, more successful films. Thus we get Catherine Steadman playing the free-spirited kook that Charlotte Coleman played in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and as Tim's eventual girlfriend, Rachel McAdams gets to recreate the scene from Notting Hill where Rhys Ifans' character tries on different slogan T-shirts before a date.

While About Time is billed as a romantic comedy, there is little romance here and even less comedy - unless you are an eight-year-old boy who finds breasts inherently funny. I did not smile once, let alone laugh. Curtis seems to have regressed; the humour here is puerile. For instance, there is a truly awful laboured joke where Tim's first love introduces her girlfriend and Tim takes this to mean that she is gay. Really. That's supposed to be a joke. And we get that not once, but twice as Tim tries a "do over" to correct his mistake. Such "jokes" don't belong in any film made in the 21st century, and that's the real problem with About Time: it feels horribly dated.

In a desperate attempt to make it more contemporary, Curtis shoehorns in a spurious reference to Kate Moss, making Rachel McAdams an avid fan of the model, which feels completely unbelievable. As does the fact that we are supposed to buy her an insecure mouse. Adams, however, is this film's only shining light; she deserves better material than this. I hope she takes the fee from this movie and sets up her own production company. It would be the only thing to make appearing in this piece of tedium worthwhile.

About time is not only unfunny, it is cringeworthy. After The Boat That Rocked, Curtis once again forces his middle-aged wank fantasies down audience's throats. He includes scene after pointless scene with Margot Robbie, who plays Tim's lost love, which could and should have been cut. Once again Curtis ethnically cleanses London. Thus we get one character of colour with a line. And Curtis seems to inhabit some alternative universe where people on low salaries can somehow afford a des res in central London. Yeah, right.

This is such a misogynistic film, I'm still finding it hard to believe that someone thought it would be a good idea. All the female characters here are two-dimensional ciphers, there only to be objectified by men. And to think Curtis is Britain's most successful screenwriter!

His middle-class schtick is wearing very thin. This is such a lazily written screenplay, I feel offended. It's like going to someone's house for dinner and having them empty the contents of an ashtray onto your plate. In About Time, the "meet cute" occurs in a pitch-black restaurant but there isn't a single line of dialogue or moment where you think these are two people who are meant to be together, two halves of a whole, the most crucial element in any romantic comedy. I'd like to tie Curtis to a chair and make him watch Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve on a loop for twenty-four hours. But really About Time is two different films spliced together, which is why it doesn't work; it starts off as a traditional rom com then becomes a drama about fathers and sons.

No matter, this is one to avoid.