Non-Mormon Mormon Movie: ‘About Time’

If you get a chance, I highly recommend the British movie “About Time,” which is filled with so many Mormon themes you would swear the writers were LDS.

The movie is about a British family in which the men are time travelers. They can only travel back in time (not into the future). The awkward son in the family Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) discovers this on his 21st birthday. Of course he is skeptical, but he is told to go to a dark closet, make fists to concentrate and imagine a time in his life that he would like to change, and –voila! — he is taken back in time. He says he will use his new power to find a girlfriend.

SPOILERS coming.

Here are some of the surprising Mormon themes:

–The time travelers appear completely uninterested in earning money with their powers. The very down-to-Earth father warns that pursuing money has made past family members very unhappy.
–They only use this power for small things involving their relationships with much-loved family members. (They show no interest in changing large, world-affecting events).
–The father played by the great Bill Nighy reveals that he primarily uses time travel to 1)spend time with his family 2)read good books 3)learn to appreciate life by reliving days twice, adopting a positive attitude the second time around. Tim does this, and we discover the age-old adage that it is not what happens to you, it is how you respond to what happens to you.
–Tim is very seriously involved with Mary (Rachel McAdams) but has a chance to hook up with a gorgeous past love (Charlotte, played by Margot Robbie). She invites him into her apartment, and Tim realizes he really is in love with Mary, and he literally runs away from Charlotte to avoid temptation. This scene would make a great young men’s lesson on chastity: infidelity is not worth it.
–Tim believes in marriage and in fidelity throughout his life. He is completely focused on Mary and has no interest in another woman. (Imagine how many Hollywood movies would show him fooling around with other women).
–Tim wants to have an unusually large (for modern Europe) number of children (three). He does this despite the fact that his friends and most people around him spend their time saying they are not interested in children.

The primary theme of the movie is completely aligned with David O. McKay’s statement that “no success can compensate for failure in the home.” Given all of the infidelity, violence and ugliness that is glorified in movies these days, “About Time” was a nice surprise.

A few warnings: unfortunately, this movie has a few unnecessary F-bombs and S-bombs. It is also worth pointing out that there are a few sexy scenes and that the main characters do hop into bed almost immediately, so this movie may not be appropriate for children and some younger teenagers. But overall, a very well-done movie.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

18 thoughts on “Non-Mormon Mormon Movie: ‘About Time’

  1. Can you tell us why is rated R. I avoid R rated movies like the plague. There is usually unpleasant scenes that offend my spirit.

  2. I believe his last paragraph explains why it is R. Usually three or more F-bombs is sufficient to earn an R rating, unless the film is further edited for a lesser rating.

  3. I’m pretty sure it is rated PG-13. In any case, such ratings are pretty meaningless when you can see absolute crap that is rated PG-13. I would much rather see this movie than some of the other garbage out there.

  4. According to every review site I’ve seen, it’s R.

    Not that that really means much. Generally I haven’t seen an R rated movie in a long time, but that’s because so few R movies ever interest me. Of course, very few movies in general interest me anymore.

  5. I have relatives who won’t see R-rated movies. So sad when there is a great movie that happens to have been awarded the R rating.

    I’ve seen the trailer to this film – it does look very sweet, although one of the trailer flashback scenes screams about why this is an R-rated film. On-screen sex is the easy way to show that someone matters.

    It would be seriously messed up to be able to go back in time and “improve” on a day in ways that might inadvertently obviate later events we hold precious.

  6. Agree re: the movie overall. One addition to your observations is a strong Father-Son element in the story. That’s not necessarily Mormon, but was a nice plotline throughout.

    People shouldn’t be distracted by the rating. You won’t go to hell if you see this movie. And your life won’t be the least bit poorer if you don’t. It is a nice entertaining 90 minutes.

  7. Thanks rb. Nice to hear from somebody else who has actually seen the movie. The ratings system is a complete joke — I don’t pay much attention to it anymore and usually look for reviews on movie sites like this:

    As an example, there is no way I am seeing “Wolf of Wall Street.”

  8. I also don’t pay attention to the rating system. Like your post here that means I will occasionally recommend an R rated movie to member friends. I don’t mean to offend them but I don’t know the rating for the vast majority of the movies my wife and I see.

    If someone has drawn an arbitrary line with an R rating acting as a barrier it’s no big deal to me-to each her own. There has not been a movie made that would cause someone to have lived an incomplete life if they didn’t see it-no matter the rating. So to categorically exclude R rated movies means little to me. I can do with a little less preaching and judging from those people, but I’ve grown used to the gasps and tsking-tsking when I admit to seeing an R rated movie from time to time or accidentally recommend one to a Mormon friend.

    I don’t need any movie review to tell me “Wolf of Wall Street” isn’t worth my time or money. The previews were enough. “Lone Survivor” on the other hand,was awesome and I will probably see it again. As I tried to discreetly and in a manly way wipe away a year towards the end of the movie I noticed my 18 yr old daughter yawning! I think she hates America! With all the F bombs and blood that has to be rated R though I didn’t bother to check. Would be nice to go back in time and save those three Navy Seals.

  9. I have found at least equal gasping and tsking from those who “pay no attention” to the rating system, as amply evidenced on this thread.

    It is likely that the bulk of judgment from others is an echo of one’s expectations more than reality.

  10. The Mormon world is about equally divided between the people who tsk about R-rated movies and those who tsk about the tsking. If you ever want to get traffic to your website, that is a good topic to get people really revved up.

  11. It’s not just tsk about the tsking. I have many depressing stories about the way I’ve been treated by LDS members for my choices regarding entertainment. Non-members tend to take it in stride, even if they think I’m weird for it.

    But I’ve had people try to trick me into watching more salacious ratings than my choice. I’ve been given the silent treatment by a family member. I’m excluded from social groups, told I’m childish. My choices have been labeled ridiculous, sad, lame, blind, and “messed-up.”

    All of which has convinced me I have made the right choice. If watching so-called “adult” entertainment leads to such attitude, I’m better off without it clouding my perceptions. I know this thread isn’t primarily about ratings, but the derision was building even here until I felt compelled to speak up.

    If you choose to ignore the rating system, that’s your choice. But it isn’t entirely garbage or meaningless. It may not be perfect, but it is a simple and useful source of information. I take it for a guide because it’s as good of a measure as any other short of personal experience, and I’m not about to spend time combing reviews and independent ratings to parse out the details.

  12. As was commented, to each his own, but… I also say, viewer beware. Two nights ago, I watched a sci-fi PG film titled “Logan’s Run” (1976), which I expected, given the date and rating, would be squeaky clean. I was wrong. While there was no profanity, it contained the highest number of nude scenes–not just one or two, but several–I’ve ever seen in a film. It had no business being a PG movie.

    Ratings, although subjective, are all about content. I find the ratings to be useful, especially since 1984 when the PG-13 category was introduced. Prior to that, PG movies like Logan’s Run contained offensive scenes that angered parents. Since then, the majority of PG-13 movies (and I expect some will staunchly disagree) have been pretty consistently enforced with limited exposure to nudity and the f-word (which I can’t abide even once…), otherwise directors can expect an R rating.

    Ignoring the ratings, in my opinion, is foolish. Maybe it sounds like I’m tsking, but I can’t imagine our general authorities “ignore the ratings” prior to watching a film (a pastime I imagine they do pretty infrequently compared to rest of us). An NR film carries too much risk, so I’ll look to other sources for its content.

    While Geoff gives a nice review, I will likely steer clear away from the film due to its rating, unless it is edited for cable TV.

  13. I agree with SilverRain. The MPAA ratings are useful, especially to religious parents–and couples. Since “There has not been a movie made that would cause someone to have lived an incomplete life if they didn’t see it-no matter the rating” (also true, thanks rb), let us weigh the importance of entertainment in our lives, whether it be sports, movies, popular music, or the internet. Most members who “last” (endure) in the Gospel know that there are rules, or an Iron Rod to help us, not to hold us back. To say that you “don’t pay much attention to the ratings” seems strange. Yes, there is a lot of PG-13 garbage, a lot of garbage on television. We have one commercial broadcasting station for local news (don’t care too much about it–mostly garbage and bearable local news. Reading or listening to the news is much better imho.) and 3 PBS stations. We pick what we think is appropriate at the library in documentaries and fiction for us and our grandchildren. We don’t choose from the R-rated ones, and if it says PG-13, we read on the back why it is rated PG-13. If it involves graphic sensuality, sexuality, “sexy” stuff, no thanks. If it’s smoking, drinking, cussing, war, it all depends on how much there is and whether the movie is a great movie or not. Will the story bring me closer to Christ or not? “Violence and gore”, “Disturbing scenes of violence” are not selling points for us! I promise not to judge, gasp, or tsk, but make an informed decision before you consume media or anything. I would rather you buy the doughnut box and drink the caffeine free Pepsi after reading the label and saying, “Oh well…” than you NOT reading the label or not being informed : )

  14. Somewhat Off Topic – I went to movies as a teenager in the 70s, my impression of ratings then as compared to now is that to get an “R” rating then sex had to be pretty explicit, or nudity had to be very frequent. Currently a bit of nudity will (usually?) get an “R” rating – so a much lower thresh hold now. So if you are relying on the rating system to screen your movies (and nudity or sex are what you are worried about) watching PG-13 movies from the 60s or 70s will likely result in a few (unpleasant) surprises. Language seems to have gone in the opposite direction, today, even on unrated TV, you will hear astounding amounts of profanity and/or vulgarity – in movies it is almost a given. Violence seems to have always been “allowed” – meaning there has to be an astounding amount before a movie gets an “R” rating.

    On Topic – I think the movie sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

  15. “caffeine free Pepsi” lol. What do you have against caffeine?

    I look forward to when this movie is available on itunes, Amazon, on-Demand etc. so I can enjoy it again with my teenage girls. The messages contained in the movie are, as the OP says, wholesome and the movie is a light treat. Great for a cold night with a warm fire and pleasant company.

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