Continuing with my recommendation for time-travel movies other than the ones every “Best” list recycles. Which is why despite its charms, Somewhere in Time isn’t on this list of love films — that’s one everyone knows. And yes, I should have written this for Valentine’s Day, my bad.
QUEST FOR LOVE (1971) is a personal favorite. It’s schmaltzy as hell and has the implausible Exact Double resolution but even so. Brilliant physicist Tom Bell is hurled into a parallel world where he’s a famous playwright (WW II never happened, JFK is alive and running the League of Nations, Everest hasn’t been climbed, to name other divergences). He’s also a complete douchebag whose wife, Joan Collins (and lord, was she gorgeous back then) despises him — can Bell convince her he’s a different man now? And even when he does, all is not well … “If the time we’ve spent together is all there is, it’s been enough.”
Molly Ringwald’s TWICE UPON A TIME (1998) has her as a frustrated business woman — didn’t get the promotion, wishes she’d married her baseball-star ex-boyfriend, tired of her beta-male beau — plunged into an alternate world where women executives bond over power croquet games, her mom is alive (better cancer treatments) and she did marry the ball player. By the end, of course, she realizes where her heart lies and it’s not with him … not an A-lister, but fun, and I like that Ringwald’s selfish parallel-world counterpart wants to get home just as much as Molly-One does.
FAMILY MAN (2000) is an excellent Nicolas Cage film in which angel Don Cheadle shows him the parallel world where he married his college sweetheart (Téa Leoni) and became a tire-store manager and yes, family man, instead of a corporate shark. Well done, charming and extra points for acknowledge the Leoni in the original timeline is not going to be the same person as the alt.version.
ME MYSELF I (1999) is an Aussie movie with Rachel Griffiths going through the Family Man experience. It’s fun too, mostly because of Griffiths’ strong performance in the lead.
11 MINUTES AGO (2009) has a time-traveler from the future (Ian Mauro) crash a wedding party in the course of gathering some samples for his research. Oddly, everyone remembers him from earlier in the evening, but why would he have come back there again when it takes so long to prepare for a time jump? Then he meets Christina Mauro, who remembers him very well indeed, and he starts to understand … I found this charming, but my sister and our best friend hated it, so fair warning.
HAPPY ACCIDENTS (2000) stars Vincent D’Onofrio as a time traveler whose come back from his dystopian future to win the heart of Marisa Tomei. She thinks he’s crazy with all his time-travel talk, but they can make this work, right? She hasn’t just fallen for the wrong guy again … has she? D’Onofrio does a great job as someone just slightly out of synch with the way people are supposed to behave in our time.
IL MARE (2000) is the Korean film remade as the Sandra Bullock/Keanu Reaves The Lake House, and I think I prefer it (though I do like the remake too). As in the later film, two people living in the same house two years apart discover they can send mail to each other, fall in love, and try to arrange a meeting. It appears, at the climax, that everything’s gone horribly wrong, but is it really too late?