The Time Traveler’s Wife: A Review.

time traveler 002 It happened again. Last night my wife and I went to see what first sounded like it would be a neat sci fi movie. It turned out to be another of those bad-to-the-bone failed chick flicks that is spoken mostly in whispers to the ears of only those females in the audience who still possess the ability to understand hush-spoken words above the torrent of their own broken hearted tears. The only people crying at our Sunday showing in Cinemark Memorial City were me and all others who couldn’t stop thinking of what they had just paid good money to watch.

The storyline is simple enough: As a child of about 8, Henry De Tamble (Eric Dana) is riding in the back seat of a car driven by his mother when she looks back to give him a goofy smile that is far too slow on delivery. Henry’s eyes widen to twice their size as he looks past his unconditional love-ogling mom to see the oncoming rush of a head-on collision in the fractional second away in-the-making future.

It is under these circumstances that Henry first learns that he suffers from a genetic anomaly that will, in this case, spare his physical life, but condemn him to an eternal search for lasting love and soul-weary rest. You see, Henry has the ability, under duress, to travel through time and away from threat. In his first trip, Henry suddenly disappears from the back seat of the car as his mom takes the highway hit on her own normally guaranteed path to the cemetery. It’s not clear exactly where Henry quickly went on this first trip, but it was away from harm long enough to spare him from becoming the second bug on the windshield of the truck that slams into the mom-mobile.

Of course, Henry’s guilt is monumental that he survived while his mom died. As we soon learn in patchy, hard-to-follow flashbacks and flashforwards, Henry’s life beyond the first trauma now becomes one long unending succession of involuntary trips to and from other time zones, as his classic violinist father slips steadily into alcoholism from his inconsolable grief. One of only two things are constant about Henry’s trips through time: (1) Clothes don’t travel. Anytime Henry travels, his clothes drop to the floor and he arrives nude at his new destination; and (2) Henry is looking for love in all the wrong spaces. Once Henry lands nude in the brushes near a dense forest, he finds a little girl about 8 years old having a picnic by herself in the nearby meadow. The little girl turns out to be Clare Abshire (later played by Rachel McAdams when Clare reaches a more appropriate dating age for the now fully grown, time-truckin’ Henry.)

In their first time travel meeting, the voice of Henry calls out from the bushes to reassure the frightened little girl that she has nothing to fear from him. He says something like, “Don’t worry about me. I’m just a time traveler. Throw me that blanket you’re using and I’ll come out and talk with you.” This wierdo approach apparently wasn’t covered by Clare’s parents or teachers in their warnings about stranger-predators. She takes the blanket to the bushes, allowing the now covered Henry to come out in the open for a brief and mildly inappropriate conversation with the little girl.

Henry continues to make these little trips over time to visit Clare until she finally grows old enough to marry him. They marry, of course, but Henry is still disappearing on a fairly regular, but uncontrollable basis. Clare is very understanding of her husband’s absences, but coming from a really rich family, she’s a little unhappy over their lack of income. Henry works as a lbrarian and cannot afford to support Clare in the style she had known from birth. No problem. On one of his time trips, Henry takes with him an old lottery ticket from a recent, slightly later-in-time trip and plays those numbers again at this earlier moment in time to win five million dollars. After a brief struggle with the ethics of such an unfairly gained windfall, Clare grabs the money and shuts her mouth. They buy a bigger house.

time traveler 001

A big part of  the couple’s problem in marriage is their difficulty having a child. Clare keeps having third term miscarriages that they fear are being caused by Henry’s time travel gene. (Don’t ask me how that works!) They finally have a kid, but she turns out to be a time traveler too. SPOILER ALERT! I’m almost ashamed to admit that I recall this much of the plotline, but you may want to stop here, if you plan to go watch this dog chase its tail on your own dollar. I’m about to spoil the ending for all those who continue reading.

Henry finally makes a fatal time trip. He lands in the middle of the woods, standing between a big buck deer and his big game hunting, but visually challenged father-in-law.  Dear old Pa-in-Law shoots Henry instead of the deer, but Henry manages to time morph home before he dies nude in the foyer of his own home in the caring, blanket-covering four arms of his wife and daughter.  From that point on, wife and daughter only see Henry one more time, when he comes back to say a longer goodbye. Once Henry reassures them both that he will miss them, he begins to fade out, section by section. As always happens, Henry’s clothes fall to the ground when he disappears. After Henry drops his pants for the last time, Clare picks them up, as per usual, and walks back to the house with the clothes under one arm and the other arm around their daughter, and probably wishing all the while that Henry had played, at least, one more lottery numbers combo before taking his final leave.

Fade to black, with credits rolling.

Need I say more?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: