The Best Time Travel Movies You Never Heard Of

Since this blog is named after a cult-classic time travel movie (Army of Darkness), it's probably no secret that I'm a sucker for a good time travel adventure. Though "time travel" is by it's very nature science fiction, it's also one of those breakout, genre-crossing subjects that's not relegated to niche and nerd-dom. Whether campy or classic, there's no denying time travel movies have made a mark in the mainstream. That's why you're probably familiar with a lot of them, like Back to the Future (the archetype), Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (the classic stoner comedy), Hot Tub Time Machine (the nouveau stoner comedy), Forever Young (the tearjerker); Interstellar (the mindfuck), Planet of the Apes (the spoiler). But I'm here to tell you about some great under-the-radar time travel movies available for streaming on your TV RIGHT NOW.

About Time 

I'm not crying, you're crying! About Time is my very favorite member of that elusive rom-com-cum-time-travel genre. Less saccharine and cloying than it's inevitable companion, The Time Traveler's Wife (but with 100% as much Rachel McAdams!), About Time is the story of a time traveler and his, well, yes, wife. But while it has its moments of deep, bittersweet, oh-so-human sadness (shhh, you're crying, it's you, tho), it's much lighter and funnier than its Eric Bana counterpart. Starring Domhnall Gleeson (who is my absolute number one current favorite actor) in his most loveable, adorable, vaguely-Weasely form, and Bill Nighy (who is my absolute number two current favorite actor) in his most jittery, shakity, mumbling, bumbling form, this is the story of a time-travel gene that passes down through the males of a family. It's a secret Nighy and his son Gleeson share and keep from the women in the family. Unlike Bana's time traveler, though, Gleeson has near-perfect control over his short-term time jumps, which mean it's largely used to comic effect (picture Gleeson repeatedly redoing his first mediocre coitus with McAdams until it's ahem more memorable). But the gifts of time travel also come with heartbreak, and...oh stop, just go watch it already.

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel 

If Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, The World's End) and Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) got drunk at a pub and scribbled down an idea for a movie on some napkins, and then threw away those napkins, and then someone found those napkins and made them into a movie: it would be this movie. This is a simple comedy about three drinking buddies who find themselves in a space-time warp at their local watering hole. Led by the delightful Chris O'Dowd (the range on that guy, am I right?) and the wonderful Ana Farris (who needs a better agent, am I right?), the film takes place almost entirely inside the pub, a low-budget necessity that makes the film read more like a quirky one-act play. The close quarters make for some great elements of farce, though, and the film gets major points for using my favorite Back to the Future II gimmick: characters trying to avoid running into their past selves. It's Marty trying to get the almanac from Biff at the dance all over again!

Sure, it's not perfect, but it's far from the ouch-worthy 40% it earned from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Definitely worth a watch on a rainy couch day.

"U.S.S. Callister"

Okay, so this one's technically not a movie, it's an episode of Black Mirror. But, it won the Primetime Emmy for "Outstanding Television Movie," so it's totally a movie, so shut up. Black Mirror is a fabulous, bizarre T.V. show where each stand-alone episode imagines how technology has run amok in an alternate or near-future version of our world. (It's also apparently the off-season employer of Game of Thrones cast, where Bronn, the Waif, and Rob Stark's wife have joined stars like Jon Hamm, Bryce Dallas Howard, that guy from Get Out, Kelly McDonald, Lady Sybill from Downton Abbey, William from Westworld, and my boy Domhnall Gleeson as episode guests.

Enough name dropping. (Never enough!) This is the haunting story of a software designer (Jesse Plemons) who creates a private, off-line game based on his favorite faux-1960s serial called "U.S.S. Callister." The problem is, he uses the DNA of his real-life coworkers to populate this digital hallucination. So, now real people are trapped in his bizarre, G-rated, space-crime-solving fantasy world where he's the captain and they're his slavish loyal subjects. Equal parts satire, humor, and horror, "U.S.S. Callister" is one of the best Black Mirror mini-movies ever.

Midnight in Paris 

Years ago, I wrote a series of pieces about my struggle with supporting Woody Allen's work in light of the horrible allegations against him. (His daughter accuses him of molesting her and he's married to his former step-daughter.) So I hesitated to add this movie to the list. The truth is, I still struggle with Woody Allen and whether his terrible actions can be divorced from his wonderful films. So, I get it if abiding by any praise of Allen's work is not palatable for you, and you can skip this one.

And yet...this movie is nearly perfect. It's so wonderful and it makes me so happy. Here's Rachel McAdams again, moonlighting in another male-driven time-travel rom-com (when do we start calling it her niche?) And god bless her for it, because she's luminous. Owen Wilson is uncharacteristically the straight man, a sincere, serious, wide-eyed, love-sick writer obsessed with the Paris of the 1920s.

Lucky him: a wrong turn down some wet cobblestones leads him back in time to a salon in the heyday of romantic Paris: the Fitzgeralds are fighting over their sloshing coupe glasses; Gertrude Stein is holding court with Dali and Hemingway, and Josephine Baker cuts a rug with the literati. Like all time-travel movies, it's bittersweet and unsustainable; a glimpse into history teaches our hero something about the present, and the cast of the past fades into the distance as the sun rises over another morning in modern day Paris. But still, as with all time travel movies, it was beautiful while it lasted.
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