Well done Jamie Mathieson. Because in Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, the debut feature-length script-writer lays out a solid framework on which is hung an enjoyable, if occasionally rough-ended ‘ladventure’ doing well on a screen the film is just about worthy of. That’s a compliment more than anything though, because Mathieson’s scribbles are acted and directed by a group far more used to the demands of the box in the front-room than of filling the aisles with popcorn critics.
Director Gareth Carrivick, fresh from BBC series Beautiful People, does a commendable job of getting Ray (Chris O’Dowd), Toby (Marc Wooton) and Pete (Dean Lennox Kelly) into place, albeit predominantly in one beer-soaked setting. Meanwhile, time travelling ‘bloke’s babe’ Cassie (Anna Faris) holds enough grace and integrity in her role as the time travelling lust-after to provide an occasional, but refreshing aside to the semi-humourous goings on.
The events themselves start with a retreat to the local boozer with Ray, the ‘acceptable face of geekdom’ and best mates Toby and Pete joining to simultaneously provide their musings on life and the occasional round of drinks. If this sounds like a standard night in the pub to any of you reading this, then that’s because it is, until…wait for it…a round of drinks finds the beautiful Faris alone in the pub (isn’t that always the way?), a time leak is discovered in the gents, and adventure and hilarity equally ensue. Err, not quite, mainly because none of it is hilarious nor particularly adventurous, but actually that doesn’t much devalue the experience.
Whatever Mathieson’s intentions were for FAQ, if the humour on offer fails to tickle you, you’ll still get to witness the tidy crafting of his plot where the logistics of seemingly infinite groups of the three lads desperately trying to avoid each other are impressively achieved. You’ll also be witness to the brief, but well known rules of time travel discussed and mostly obeyed throughout, see a short but bleak view of futures inspired by beer-fuelled note-taking and putting the world to rights (a lesson to us all), and also find that you might actually enjoy – if not laugh out loud at – the film more than you would expect.
That you might not always see its funny side, nor be particularly blown away by its tidy climax, should be weighed against a coming of age of a group of mostly British actors, the spying of a debut screenwriter and a ‘you know who your mates are’ impact in the tying up by the time the credits roll.
But this is all inconsequential posted next to the title’s main concern. The challenge Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel faces head on is that of where it finds its audience. The type of characters it depicts will no doubt be tempted by their own watering hole over a group-trip to the local multiplex, and I can’t see many girlfriends being dragged along to this as a lad’s ‘must-see’. Having said that, for the price of a couple of drinks in your local, you could be witness to a credibly accomplished story from a new writer, a now and again tale of intriguing self-avoidance, and a story of laddishness battling adversity. If that’s your tipple.
More musings from Kevin Pocock can be found at his blog: www.kevinpocock.com.