Likes: Prometheus, The Proposal
Dislikes: The Notebook
Hates: Plot Holes
Imagine a world where Alien lead character Ripley had to deal with sexual tension between her and Dallas, or Kane, or even the titular Alien. With that in mind, why not add in a few good laughs between all of the characters. Everyone will have their fill (in more than one way). Ripley will crack wise at the Alien who in turn will only use one liners the minute he is foiled. No one would die -- at least until the end at which point one of the supporting characters will bite the bullet on the Alien’s behalf. Everyone would get their due and the story would end wrapped in a nice bow.
Science fiction (or sci-fi for you nerds) has been an institution in the entertainment landscape for what seems like forever with shows like Twilight Zone and Futurama among some of the most lauded science fiction of all time. One thing a show or movie can’t escape, however, is the storied staple of a love interest for any of its characters. Where would Star Trek be without the sensual love connection between Scotty and Chekov or Star Trek (2009) without Uhura and Spock? When romance is introduced – shoehorned really – as a subplot to a sci-fi movie’s bigger story, things can get out of hand. This is exactly what happened to Start Trek (2009) and the general consensus was lukewarm to say the least. Truthfully, fans didn’t really want a love story; they just wanted more of their beloved characters but with shiny lens flare.
About Time and The One I Love both feature simple concepts in sci-fi and romcom (or romantic comedy for you ladies) genres. About Time follows a ginger haired young man who learns that the men in his family can travel through time. Utilizing his newfound abilities, lead character Tim gets second chances at hitting on girls or correcting recent mistakes. The rules are a bit muddled. For instance, Tim is told by his father that he can’t travel with someone nor can the women do it but the son breaks that rule by taking his sister to correct her biggest past mistake. But, even with indistinct rules, the movie makes sci-fi work well. The same can be said for The One I Love. A couple goes on a vacation of sorts at the behest of a therapist. The twist here is they find another couple that seems to be exact clones of them. At moment’s, it’s needlessly slow with clouded rules of its own. The old couple only sees the version of themselves when they go to an adjacent guest house and only if they go in alone (husband without wife and vice versa). Rules are eventually broken once the clones sit the real couple down for a meeting.
Both movies feature a set of predetermined lines the characters have to walk down. Yes, these lines are blurred once the movie gets going; however, the world in which the characters live is largely built for the premade rules. It’s nice to not have to construct a makeshift reality while also getting used to new developments in plot. About Time’s Tim is established as a lanky geek with several chances at incredibly hot girls. Margot Robbie and Rachel McAdam’s headline as two of the girls Tim has a chance with. It’s out of this world enough for a guy that looks like the main character to have a contact of any kind with girls like them. The One I Love takes on a simpler story. The clones are used sparingly in the beginning but, once Sophie gets a taste of a husband who loves her, clone usage is upped. Husband Ethan grows suspicious of the clone Ethan’s intentions -- mostly because he slept with Sophie.
One of the main characteristics behind both movies is that we never find out the science of either situations. We’re just left to imagine everything for ourselves. The One I Love is clearer with its science, or rather, it tries to explain it. Ethan finds folders on a computer that points to the previous couple essentially morphing their way into the next couple. About Time just makes time travel happen. But is it important to know how it works? In Star Trek, we’re given explanation for technology, worm holes and even subspace. We get the sense of purpose for it all with limited fall through. Both About Time and The One I Love suffer from gaping plot holes residing mostly in the science of the world. The former almost immediately breaks its own set rules immediately after having them explained; the latter glosses over the finer details of where the other couple even came from and why the therapist sends people there in the first place.
But, with those negative things said, sci-fi made the aspect of romcoms refreshing. It added excitement to a genre that was becoming tired with every half-hearted release. If The Proposal introduced Sandra Bullock as a tough as nails boss who also moonlights as a shape shifter, I would’ve been all over it. Time travel arguably masked About Time in a geeky coating, masking a pleasing romantic based film. If Tim just stalked Mary for the entirety of the movie instead of giving himself second chances, the movie would’ve turned out differently. The same can be said for The One I Love and its element of doppelgangers. Had the fake couple been introduced and fully explained down to the science, a bit of magic would’ve been lost in translation of film to viewer.
Where does this leave science’s place in romance? While it can be convoluted, science does help entertain the notion of two people who shouldn’t be together defying the odds by being together. By not explaining how it really works, the movies strafing over the sci-fi/romcom lines are able to remain charming enough to be entertaining. Basically what I’m saying is add in some ray guns and Fault in Our Stars 2 will make even more bank.