Sunday, 22 August 2010

Review: Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel

His mates mocked his new scarf but he knew they were just jealous
I stumbled upon this low-budget British sci-fi (sorry, science fiction) film when they aired the premiere on UK TV. I hadn’t heard anything about it previously but thought I’d give it a watch as it starred Chris O’Dowd (Roy from the very funny comedy series ‘The IT Crowd’). I’m glad I did because it turned out to be an enjoyable film.

It starts off with Ray (O’Dowd) getting fired from the amusement park he works at as a result of his speech about time travel (which starts off the film as an opening narration), which detracts into a rant about exterminating a species on an alien planet before the camera reveals that he is in fact standing in front of a group of children dressed as a member of the ‘planetary peace corps’. Ultimately shouting “Are you nappy-wearing motherfuckers ready to lock and load, and get it on?” doesn’t go down too well with his boss.

Later, Ray heads down the pub with his mates Toby and Pete. There he is approached by a woman named Cassie (Anna Faris) who claims to be from the future. Being something of a science fiction geek, he suspects this is merely a prank his mates have come up with, despite the fact that when he returns to them, they say they had nothing to do with it. Toby believes it would make a really good idea for a film, while Pete dismisses it as silly. However, when Pete goes to the toilet, he comes back to find the bar full of dead bodies, including his own. Scared and confused, he hides in the toilets and when he returns to the bar again, everything is back to normal...

It turns out there is a time leak in the toilets, one that Cassie is looking for so she can fix it. Every time the three friends enter the toilets, they travel forwards or backwards in time. The pace quickens as they try to avoid ‘themselves’ from different times as well as the dangers that might be lurking in a strange, apocalyptic future. There is also the mystery of a painting of them on the outside of the pub holding a piece of paper…what is written on it, and why would someone want them dead because of it?

I think this film tried hard to get the geeks on their side with the many movie and TV references. Originally, I didn’t want to be swayed so easily but I did become more supportive of the group as soon as they mentioned Firefly - I guess that’s an easy target nowadays.

I like that it took an everyday activity: just going to the pub with a couple of mates, and added an extraordinary element: discovering a time leak in the toilets through which they could travel. So it’s a science fiction film that feels like it could happen to the average person because these are average guys, not men from the future, or robots, or spacemen. They are easier to relate to and identify with. Ray is an untraditional hero and Chris O’Dowd plays him as believable, likeable and funny. Anna Faris is her usual ditsy self, and Marc Wootton and Dean Lennox Kelly are well suited to their roles.

Overall, it’s a charming and original sci-fi comedy with a very British sense of humour. The script could have benefitted from being a little longer (the film only lasts 80 minutes) and having a few more jokes (sometimes it favours more serious dramatic moments over laughs, which don’t work as well) but these are minor niggles. This is a quirky and fun film that packs an unexpected punch.


  1. Huh, this seems like it could be entertaining. I don't know if I'll find it in my area (to tell you the truth I've never heard of the movie) but I do I'll make sure to give a look.

  2. Hey, yeah it was pretty low-key on release, but worth a look if you can find it!


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