The Coolest Time Travel Movie You’ve Never Seen
Attention, fellow Americans, I feel duty bound to tell you that the coolest time travel movie you have never seen is British, it stars Chris O’Dowd and it deserves a place of honor on your shelf ‘o films next to the Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy. So what is this magical, time jumping yarn called? Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (or FAQ About Time Travel). Until recently, the film wasn’t available on this side of the pond. The British were keeping its awesomeness to themselves along with Simon Amstell, Biscoff and the letters A-F of QI, however, HBO liberated it for the betterment of mankind. Well, the betterment of the portion of mankind who like funny sci-fi movies about time travel. Here, watch the trailer:
As you can see the budget is low and the silliness factor high, but there is so much fun to be had. O’Dowd, best known for his roles on The I.T. Crowd and Bridesmaids, plays a guy who is obsessed with time travel. He’s not a scientist, simply a geek with a passion for stories about bouncing around the space time continuum. His friends are well aware of his obsession, so when he runs into a slightly ditzy time traveler (Anna Faris) in a pub, he believes his friends are playing an elaborate prank. That is until one of his buddies, Pete (Dean Lennox Kelly), goes to the restroom and comes out to find the pub filled with dead bodies, including his own– sporting a beard, he doesn’t have.
Yes, the key to time travel is in the pub’s bathroom where there happens to be a time leak. From there the story embarks on a journey of complete and utter lunacy. Each trip into the bathroom takes the boys to a different future. They end up in an apocalyptic landscape, a world where they are famous and simply a few moments before Pete went to relieve himself. Each jump is hilarious, particularly Pete’s since he quickly goes from the group’s cynic to its hardened time jumping veteran, and each one tells us about how Pete, Ray (O’Dowd) and Marc (Toby Wootton) see the world.
O’Dowd is the biggest draw though. The actor is quickly becoming one of the brightest stars in Hollywood, capable of being gut-bustingly funny and subtle. His work in FAQ strikes a nice balance between slapstick, fanboy excitement and genuine wonder and hope. Ray is the normal everyman hero we have come to love in films: a sweet, geeky guy thrust into an unbelievable scenario, albeit one he has been prepping for his entire life. O’Dowd channels his natural energy into Ray, building a guy we can root for, pity and laugh with all at once.
Equally impressive is how much the film does with a small set. When deployed, the special effects aren’t stellar, but the hokiness gives the whole film an old-fashioned, ’50s sci-fi movie feel. The pub is utilized perfectly as it stands in for a ravaged home base during the end times, a joyful setting for our trio of misfits to yammer about films in and the center of a strange sequence of events that draws three average joes into an extraordinary experience. I love seeing what filmmakers can pull off when they have to work with a limited amount of money, and director Gareth Carrivick utilizes the space he has to cram in as many sight gags and quick cuts as possible. The trio nearly run into each other half a dozen times, but the gag never gets old. The action is clips along at a delightful pace, rarely pausing to meditate before sending us down another rabbit hole.
It’s not a flawless movie– there is an element involving “editors” who ensure people die at the height of their greatness that doesn’t work, but the overall story is so much fun, a clunky arc can be forgiven. Cult movies live and die by their ingenuity; they have to have a spark of quirkiness that connects with the audience and Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is covered in quirk. It’s not for everyone, but if you consider yourself a time travel film aficionado (if you have seen everything from Back to the Future to Primer, I’m talking to you), then you owe it to yourself to see this film. Do it for O’Dowd, time loops and the joys of time traveling bathrooms.
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