Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dean Lennox Kelly, Mark O'Dowd & Marc Wootton in FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TIME TRAVEL (2009)

Dir. Gavin Carrivick, UK, 2009, 83 mins

Cast: Chris O’Dowd, Marc Wootton, Dean Lennox Kelly, Anna Faris

It’s a term that can backfire when applied to a film, but this wonderful little British oddity is only a few steps off “geek” perfection. Harshly criticised in some corners of the press , it’s true that this is no Shaun of the Dead , not even close to it, but as an inventive little hybrid ofRed Dwarf and Spaced , and as a film that includes a description of Star Wars as “ the first one with the gold robot and his little fat mate ”, it’s an unpretentious piece of comic entertainment.

During a “geeky” (there’s that word again) discussion fuelled drinking session, three down on their luck mates – Pete (Kelly), Toby (Wootton), and Ray (O’Dowd) – encounter a time-travelling girl from the future (Anna Faris). Through a porthole in the gents and an unravelling plot of alternate dimensions and paradoxical happenings, the trio find themselves confronted with giant post-apocalyptic ants and bar based massacres in an effort to restore their dull, underachieving lives.

This wont be to everyone’s taste as it’s slightly too niche to find a mainstream audience, but its heart is firmly on its sleeve, its ambitions push the miniscule budget to its limits and the creaky sets are part of the charm.

Nods to multiple fan bases are plentiful; the opening credits resemble Superman and there are references to Joss Whedon’s Serenity, but the comedy is also broad enough to make sure that it doesn’t completely whiz over the head of the uninitiated, as in “stop using the N word”, in reference to the constant use of the word “nerd”.

The likeable leads also help. O’Dowd brings his winning IT Crowd charisma to the script, and Marc Wootten, usually an intolerable annoyance when appearing as television’s Shirley Ghostman (remember him?) gets most of the choice lines, as when commenting on the concept of a ghost train, “werewolves and vampires would never team up to attack a train”. If you don’t laugh at that line then FAQATT is definitely not the film for you.

The biggest foible is the complete waste of the film’s biggest coup, Anna Faris. She may have been limited in terms of on-set availability, but she, along with Tina Fey, is one of the few genuine comediennes in film today. Heck, she even made The House Bunny worth watching. Here she is wheeled on and off for the simple reason of having “Anna Faris” on the poster.

Better than 75% of Hollywood output, this won’t make a dent at the multiplexes, but those of you in the brethren of “geek” should track it down and then recommend it to a friend as an intermittently hilarious, smile inducing gem.

Review by Matthew Rodgers