Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I never messed with nerds when I was youngster. There was always something about them that made me a little uneasy. Seriously, you have to be a special kind of cat to sit around a table in a silly costume rolling octagonal die for hours on in, knowing damn well that this behavior is going to get you mercilessly abused by your incredibly un-refined high school mates. Never messed with them. In retrospect this turned out be a good thing because most of the nerds I knew either turned out to be rich or became cops. Show me an aggressively violent police officer and I’ll show you a guy who got beat up in high school. A lot. This little prologue is neither here nor there in regards to this movie ‘Frequently Asked Questions about Time Travel’, except that it’s all about nerds all grown up, but I’m just letting all those vengeful rich cats and angry police officers out there know there that I wasn’t the one.

Ray (Chris O’Dowd), Toby (Marc Wooten) and Pete (Dean Lennox Kelly) are a trio of British cats and lifelong friends that we can safely surmise are lacking the Upward Mobility Gene considering their career consists of working as theme park stuffed animals. Ray, in his exuberant nerd nature, has even managed to get himself sacked from that seemingly simple gig. However these gentlemen’s true vocation, as it were, is going down to the pub, downing a few pints while discussing huge ideas. Or at least Ray and Toby do while Pete chastises his boys for being nerds, or ‘imagineers’ as his nerd buddies prefer to be called.

Then the strangeness begins. Ray, who is obsessed with the theories of time travel, meets a pretty woman at the pub named Cassie (Anna Faris) who claims to be a time traveler and just wanted to meet Ray who will be famous one day. Cassie is in town during this time in history time to fix what is known as a ‘time leak’. Pete, ever the Doubting Thomas, runs off to the loo only to return to the pub to find everyone dead, including himself. Weird huh? He returns to the bathroom and reenters the pub to find everything oddly back to normal.

Ray thinks his friends has sent this woman as joke and nobody believes Pete’s outlandish story until the trio go into the bathroom and exit out to find their world completely different. Time leak found. What they need to do is make it back to their time period to get everything back to normal, but considering that exiting and entering the time anomalous bathroom results in the crew finding themselves in a completely random time event, is making this task much easier said than done. But with a little help from the time traveling Cassie and her EXTREMELY helpful assistant Millie (Meredith MacNeil) there really shouldn’t be any problem with this, should there? As if.

From the opening scene in which an over zealous Ray innocently terrorizes a bunch of kids as host of a carnival ride ‘Frequently asked Questions about Time Travel’ pretty much had me hooked, so all it had to do from there was be just good enough to keep me hooked, and I am pleased to say that it had no problems doing this. Mind you that this is a movie with some extreme limitations to work within, this being that most of the action shuttles between a public restroom that could really use a spot shine and a sparsely populated pub, so if anything is going to work in this movie with its limited locations, it’s going to have to rest on the shoulders of the actors, the wittiness of the writing and the ability of director Garreth Carrivick to keep his film moving, and all three of these elements worked pretty darned well, at least for me.

The primary thing that works for this movie, one that bills itself as a comedy, is that it is consistently funny. It is a British comedy and as such the comedy does have that uniquely British tinge to it, which mainly means that the comedy is more inspired wit than that of the beer flying out your nose, falling off your chair variety… but I like British humor for the most part, and I really enjoyed the way the humor was handled in this movie. Being a fan of most things Science Fiction I also dug the time travel aspects of the film and how it was integrated into the overall plot of the movie. Most movies that dabble in time rifts usually have a plot hole or two which gets ignored, this one being no different, with the main one bothering me being why were our trio the only ones in the pub who seemed affected by the dirty bathroom time rift? Just curious.

While the characters we were spending time with probably weren’t blessed with the most depth around, all of the actors were suitably engaging and charming for what they required to do. Then of course there’s Anna Faris who is terminally adorable in whatever she does and in this somewhat extended cameo appearance, she was adorable here as well.

One thing I have noticed is that if you’re British and you make a comedy the marketing team will immediately call it ‘Shawn of the Dead meets ‘fill in other movie here’. Funny movie on a deserted Island? It’s ‘Shawn of the Dead’ meets ‘Lost’. Funny movie on a porn set? It’s ‘Shawn of the Dead’ meets ‘Boogie Nights’. So apparently this movie is billed as ‘Shawn of the Dead’ meets ‘Dr. Who’, and while I don’t know if I’d go that far in my praise of this movie, but we would really like to see marketing departments use a little more creativity in praising their own movies. Regardless, I was entertained by ‘FAQ about time travel’ and I think most nerds out there will be too. Though I’m not a nerd. Seriously.

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