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Reel Review: ‘Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel’



By Anna Husted EBS Film Critic

On a typical night out at the pub, three best friends Ray (Chris O’Dowd), Toby (Marc Wootton) and Pete (Dean Lennox Kelly) accidentally invent a time-traveling device. Ray stumbles upon this invention when a pretty blonde named Cassie (Anna Farris) introduces herself as a woman from the future who has always wanted to meet the famous inventors.

The three nerds, or “imagineers” as Ray prefers to the offensive “n” word, do not believe Cassie initially, but then strange rifts in time begin to happen. In one instance, Pete returns to the pub from the bathroom and finds everyone murdered. In another, the entire town has been destroyed. Cassie’s presence has caused all hell to break lose in the future, which in turn affects the friends’ present.

Without giving away too many of the frequently asked questions, there a few typical time-travel inquiries that preoccupy the friends: What happens when you see your present self? Does traveling through time age the traveler? Can you travel back in time to before the time-traveling device was invented?

I love talking about time travel and parallel universes so I appreciate seeing it depicted in an interesting way on screen. Even more so, I love seeing time travel depicted with that British underdog sense of humor—like the friends pointing out that of course everyone in the future has an American accent; or in order to avoid seeing themselves in the present they have to hide in a tiny broom closet for what feels like days.

Another brilliant story device is that “Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel” takes place almost entirely in one location—the pub. The movie has a glorious runtime of one hour and 23 minutes so viewers don’t get bored or exhausted by that local drinking establishment. Plus, the pub acts as a totem marker for where travelers are in time. If the men’s bathroom is in disarray you know you are in the present, but if it ceases to exist at all you are in a future you don’t want to be in.

“Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel” is a little gem of a film made by Gareth Carrivick in 2009, his only feature film before his untimely death a year later. For me, Carrivick lives on as a great director of one highly entertaining film.

“Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel” is witty and relatable, and makes for great discussions about the rules of time travel. It starts and ends with a bang and, as Ray says, don’t think about time travel too hard or it’ll “turn your brain into spaghetti if you let it.”

“Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Anna Husted has a master’s in film studies from New York University. In Big Sky she can be found at the movies at Lone Peak Cinema or hiking up a mountain. When not gazing at the silver screen or watching her new favorite TV show, she’s running, fishing or roughhousing with her cat, Indiana Jones.

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