I don’t know about you, but lately I've had a lot of time to watch movies. Unfortunately, the movies I’ve been meaning to watch include a lot of moody, grim films about the darkness of the human condition – and I just don’t feel like watching those right now.
That’s why, this month, we’re doing a double-feature of movies that make you feel nice and happy inside. We, in the biz, call them feel-good movies or, for those who are too busy to say the whole thing, feelgoodies.
Both of these feelgoodies are on Netflix now, so if you’re staying home this weekend like me, click on through and enjoy.
About Time isn’t about time travel. It’s about love, family, and how we can lose people important to us, yet also never really lose them. It’s about the march of time and how that affects us. And yes, it’s a little bit about time travel.
Or rather, it features time travel, as an element through which to explore those other aspects of our humanity. The main character, Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson, gets the talk from his father on his 21st birthday. For the men in their family, the talk is about how they can travel back into their own minds at any earlier point in their lives; essentially, they can time travel.
From the get-go, Tim’s father tells him that using it for wealth and power hasn’t ever really made him or any of their male ancestors any happier, and that he still needs to find a way to be happy day-by-day, like any normal person.
The thing that makes this movie really special to me, is that Tim actually listens. The movie isn’t about the protagonist trying to acquire money and power and how he has to learn that true happiness isn’t about those things. It’s about a normal guy, trying to find happiness in a normal life like the rest of us.
Except he can also time travel.
I’m a time-travel nerd, so I love how About Time takes care to establish the rules and nuances of its time-travel mechanics. It’s got a heart-warming romance featuring Rachel McAdams, and that’s one of the reasons my sister loved it enough to recommend it to me initially. But I can comfortably recommend it to anyone, because it’s also got a lot of heart, and it’s a great feel-good movie.
Hook isn’t really about time travel either. At all. This 1991 Steven Spielberg film follows Peter Pan as an adult, played by Robin Williams, as he’s forced to return to a Neverland that he’s long forgotten. It features no time travel whatsoever.
What it is about, is adulthood and nostalgia. At the beginning of the film, Peter has literally forgotten who he used to be. The boy who would never grew up, finally did, and now he’s too concerned with his important career and providing for his family to worry about frivolous things. When his children are kidnapped, he’s forced to return to Neverland and reconnect with his childhood self to save them.
As nostalgia for the past tends to do, it lures him in so thoroughly that Peter doesn’t know if he’ll ever want to return.
In difficult times, many of us long to return to simpler ones. Some of us try to erase that side of ourselves altogether. Hook explores the line between over-indulging in nostalgia, and entirely forgetting who we used to be.
But it does all that in a delightful, feel-good way!
Dustin Hoffman plays the titular villain in an over-the-top and fun-to-watch performance, and the cast acts all over some of the best designed movie sets from this era of Hollywood. Hook was originally imagined as a musical, and they built all the sets with that whimsy (and room for dancing) in mind. They reworked it into a non-musical film and we’re left with a straight script set in a musical-powered surreal world that really does feel like Neverland.
Of course, I have to mention that Williams was a brilliant comedic performer who could always tone-it-down when a role required him to be more serious. Hook doesn’t elevate Williams past his usual on-screen charm, but Williams certainly elevates Hook to something special.
Coming in at 2 hours and 22 minutes, some people justifiably complain that Hook runs on a little too long. If you’re the type to get antsy in a movie, then it may not be for you. But reliving or experiencing Hook for the first time is a feel-good experience I can recommend to most. As I mentioned above, both Hook and About Time are on Netflix, so hook your tv up if you have been wondering what to do about all this free time.