Time travel movies are a dime a boxes. There are movies where the time travel has drastic consequences, movies where it’s incredibly mundane, movies where the time travel makes for a great love story… the genre has given us well-worn tropes that are beloved by some and dismissed as cliches by others.
One little-known movie streaming on HBO Max brings all these pop culture staples to life in a hilarious, chaotic, and aggressively self-referential adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel was conceived as a TV movie for the BBC, but it was produced by HBO and thus scored a spot among HBO Max’s movie offerings. It gets lost in the mix, but it’s a hidden gem.
FAQ follows three friends who are all sci-fi superfans: Ray (Chris O’Dowd), Pete (Dean Lennox Kelly), and Toby (Marc Wootton). Fed up with all the tropes they see in movies, they decide to write an open letter to Hollywood.
Then, at the pub, Roy meets an American named Cassie (Anna Faris) who dumps a lot of confusing information on him. She’s a time traveler who fixes “time leaks,” and she saves famous figures from being killed by time traveling “editors” who murder famous people moments after they come up with their greatest idea. Pete doesn’t believe a word of this encounter, but then he goes to the bathroom and emerges to find the bar full of corpses.
It’s a lot to absorb, but it’s the start of a rollicking time-travel adventure that runs the gamut of tropes. There are space cops, time loops, butterfly effects, and, of course, a love story, all crammed into 83 minutes. The plot is entirely too ambitious for such a small-scale film, but by keeping the story centered around a single bar there can be serious action on a shoestring budget.
By the end, the three boys find themselves in a post-apocalyptic future (while still in the bar), and there’s a crazy sequel cliffhanger presented by another version of Cassie traveling from the future. Unfortunately, a follow-up never happened, and director Gareth Carrivick died soon after the film’s 2009 release.
ironically, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel seems to have escaped its rightful place next to Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead as iconic British satire because of bad timing. Were it released as an HBO Max original in the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and time travel movies like Palm Springs, we could have seen this isolated masterpiece reach its full potential. Instead, it’s a forgotten obscurity, but one that’s still worth your… well, you know.
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is streaming on HBO Max.