Mr. Movie

'Time Traveler's Wife:' Skip the movie, read the book

Eric Bana’s Henry DeTamble is a time traveler.

He meets Rachel McAdams’ Clare Abshire in what appears to be his mid-20s. She already knows him and has since she was six. Henry doesn’t know Clare because at that time he hadn’t gone back into the past to meet her. Henry can’t time travel to a place he’s never been before or to someone unless he knows them already. He also can’t control his travel. It happens when it happens.

-- Trailer, times, theaters.

The Time Traveler’s Wife explains her life in time-line fashion as we experience life. You are a baby, you are young, you grow old. You die. Henry’s life is non-linear. Sometimes he’s old. Sometimes he’s young.

Great concept. Poor execution from Ghost writer Bruce Joel Rubin and director Robert Schwentke (Flightplan). A movie that runs 1:40 based on a novel as complex as Audrey Niffenegger’s has no chance. Double that trouble when the topic is as difficult to comprehend as time travel.

You don’t get much other than surface development of the character of Henry and Clare and their friends — neighbors, doctors, family, people critical to the depth of the story — are cardboard cutouts merely introduced to fill in some plot blanks.

Regular readers know I think most movies are too long. Once in awhile, one is too short. The Time Traveler’s Wife desperately needs another 1:40 to give you details needed to make it a great movie. And there is a great movie somewhere in this mess. It just didn’t get made.

The Time Traveler’s Wife drags so much that you will wish you could be a time traveler and to speed past the slow spots — and it’s all slow spots.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, brief nudity. It opens Friday, Aug. 14 at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.