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The Time Traveler's Wife (***)
directed by Robert Schwentke
written by Bruce Joel Rubin, from the novel by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler's Wife
Principal Cast
Rachel McAdams -- Clare Abshire
Eric Bana -- Henry DeTamble
Arliss Howard -- Richard DeTamble
Ron Livingston -- Gomez
Michelle Nolden -- Annette DeTamble
Alex Ferris -- Henry at Six
Carly Street -- Librarian
Brooklynn Proulx -- Clare at Six and Eight
Jane McLean -- Charisse
Brian Bisson -- Mark Abshire
Maggie Castle -- Alicia Abshire
Fiona Reid -- Lucille Abshire
Philip Craig -- Philip Abshire
Stephen Tobolowsky -- Dr. David Kendrick
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

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The Time Traveler's Wife is a very good example of mundane science fiction. The boundary between genre science fiction and mundane science fiction is nebulous and getting vaguer all the time, but on one side you have 1984, Brave New World, and, more recently, The Road, which get reviewed in The New Yorker, and on the other side you have I, Robot, Starship Troopers, and Rainbows End, which don't. The assumption from one side of the veil is that mundane science fiction is a superior product, better written, with better characterization, and more realism, something to which genre science fiction aspires but does not achieve. The assumption on the other side is that genre science fiction is more exciting, more original, and has a clean prose style that doesn't get in the way of the story. I read a lot of both, and I confess a preference for the hard stuff.

The film The Time Traveler's Wife (I have not read the book) is a love story, which borrows the plot of Slaughterhouse Five in the service of a sentimental but entertaining yarn, ninety percent human interest and ten percent science fiction. It takes the science fiction seasoning seriously and handles it well. Dave Goldberg, in Slate, has some nice things to say about the physics of the film, with a delightful example of a billiard ball that travels through time and blocks its own path. Wisely, the film lays down a few ground rules: no traveling back in time to a time before you are born and, most importantly, no changing the past. Without these rules, the movie would be a mess.

Even with strict rules, I'm not sure why the time traveler and his wife couldn't made out a schedule, so that she could be there to pick him up when he would next appear. All he would have to say is, "You picked me up behind the Wal-Mart at 9:15 on September 5, 1992," and she would be there.

There are a few things I would change. I think the movie would have been stronger if we had seen everything from the wife's point of view, instead of jumping back and forth between wife and time traveler. That would have been difficult to write, but it would have imposed a discipline that would make for a stronger story, just as the discipline of a sonnet can produce a stronger poem.

Rachel McAdams, the actress who plays the wife, blurted out all the major plot points on John Stewart's The Daily Show, but knowing the plot didn't spoil it for me.

A little soft, a little sentimental, but I enjoyed it.

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Copyright © 2009 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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