I reviewed the novel here. When I heard it was going to be a movie, I wondered how the story would be handled. There's a lot of jumping around and changes in point-of-view, switching from Henry to Clare and back again. How would a movie audience not become confused?
Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin did an excellent job. The movie begins with young Henry DeTamble in the car with his mother, an opera singer, on a fateful Christmas Eve, when Henry discovers his ability to move through time. An older Henry (Eric Bana) meets him at the side of the road, bringing a blanket, and reassuring young Henry that, although this experience is strange, it will be okay.
Flash forward several years. A young student, Clare Abshire (Rachel McAdams), needs a book in the Collections section. She is referred to the librarian, whom she recognizes as Henry. However, Henry hasn't met her yet, so he's confused. Over dinner, Clare explains how she knows Henry from her childhood. And why his time-traveling doesn't surprise her.
It does surprise the boyfriend of her roommate, however. Gomez (Ron Livingston) is very protective of Clare. When he sees Henry fighting in alley while wearing a pink ruffled top and cutoff shorts, he has a few questions. He has a few more when Henry breaks into a surplus store and when Henry disappears. Gomez tries to tell Clare, but, of course, she knows all about Henry's traveling.
Henry's travel causes several awkward moments, especially since he seems to "travel" during times of stress. His traveling has also created a rift with his father (Arliss Howard), who wants to know why Henry can't prevent his mother's death. And, apparently, time traveling is genetic. Clare has several miscarriages as the developing fetus "travels" out of her uterus. (Why this didn't happen with Henry--or where his time travel gene came from--is never explained, which bugs me a bit.)
The emotions and relationships among the characters are well done and realistic, especially when Henry and Clare deal with the miscarriages. There is one, almost obligatory, slam against Clare's father who is "a Republican and he hunts." Of course, the fact that this particular Republican paid for Clare to study art in college is never mentioned. Ignore that and the miscarriage/gene plot hole and enjoy the movie.
The ending, although different from the book, is poignant and satisfactory.
There are some sex scenes which are more sensual than sex. When Henry time travels, he arrives nude, but these are also tastefully done. There is one phrase ("Oh, sh..!") that recurs, but usually in situations where I'd say the same thing. It's rated PG-13, which seems appropriate, but I don't think many younger teens would enjoy it.
I made Hubs take me to this movie. To quote him, "This is a chick flick a guy can enjoy!" There's the science fiction element, it's not mushy, and there is some action--Henry is definitely not a beta male.
On the March Hare scale: 4.5 out of 5 Golden Tickets
Crossposted at The Mad Tea Party