"Everybody, look, look - DUH, I'M BILL. I HAVE REALLY WEIRD SLEEP HABITS. DUUHHHH."


"Everybody, look, look - DUH, I'M BILL. I HAVE REALLY WEIRD SLEEP HABITS. DUUHHHH."

ABOUT TIME

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. CUTESY ENGLISH HOUSEHOLD

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Ahm, right. So. Hello. I’m, well, the male romantic lead in a Richard Curtis movie, so, naturally, I’m yet another, ah, that is, you could say, stand-in for his flaccid apologetic self. Yes. Good. Um.

(is awkward)

Anyhow, so much for the typical wishy-washy protagonist, now the typical kooky support characters. There’s my sister, who’s quite eccentric and extremely high-spirited, my uncle, who’s quite high-spirited and extremely eccentric, my mother, who’s fairly eccentric but not high-spirited, and of course my dad, who’s pretty high-spirited but not eccentric.

BILL NIGHY

You know, son, maybe it’d work a bit better if you let the characters reveal themselves through their actions, instead of just describing their personalities in a voiceover.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Well the problem with that is this movie doesn’t really HAVE any actions yet. Until you explain the film’s premise, literally nothing happens whatsoever.

(pause)

So you should probably get on with it then.

BILL NIGHY

Boy we’re off to a clumsy start. All right, it’s time to tell you that the men in our family can go back in time and redo any moment from their past. Give it a try.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

(goes back in time)

Holy crap, it’s last night! And I’m back in last night’s clothes! ...But I’m still physically where I was a moment ago, which means that past-me must have just vanished into thin air. That could really freak people out. Unless we just ignore that whole concept, I guess.

He relives some of the previous evening, including kissing some girl who will not be in the movie ever again, then returns to the present with BILL.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

That’s amazing! Does Mum know?

BILL NIGHY

Of course not. Why would I tell one of the most important things about myself to the woman I’m sharing my life with?

DOMHNALL GLEESON

I wholeheartedly agree and will act accordingly from here on out! So, I can’t help but notice you haven’t exactly used this power to prevent 9/11 or warn people about the Indonesian tsunami or anything. What have you been doing with it?

BILL NIGHY

I’ve been getting a lot of reading done.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

...Okay, on the bright side I no longer feel guilty about my plans to basically use it to get laid.

BILL NIGHY

So now would traditionally be the part of a magical realism comedy where you start messing about with your powers to try and fix the things we’ve established as being wrong with your life.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Oh. But we didn’t establish shit, remember? I guess we’d better hurriedly introduce something NOW.

Suddenly there is a HOT WOMAN staying over for a while!

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Hey, hot woman, I’m crazy about you and have decided to make my move within hours of you going home!

MARGOT ROBBIE

Which gives us time to do what exactly? This is dumb timing, just dumb, what were you thinking.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Very fair point. Fortunately, time travel!

He goes BACK IN TIME and tries again.

MARGOT ROBBIE

Sure, I’m interested. But why don’t we put a pin in it for now and you can try me again... RIGHT BEFORE I LEAVE!

(comical wah-wah sound plays)

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Aw, shoot, it didn’t work. I give up.

MARGOT ROBBIE

Uh, is that it? You do know you have literally infinity tries at this, right? You can try seducing me any way at any time as often as you like.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Nope, it’s over. I failed. So long.

MARGOT ROBBIE

You could at least actually try me again on my last night, I mean, it sounded like maybe with that added bit of anticipation I’d be up for a farewell fuck before I-

DOMHNALL GLEESON

GAME OVER, THE END, GOODBYE

(leaves)

EXT. LONDON

A cutesy passage-of-time montage shows MAGICAL TIME-CHANGING SUPERMAN DOMHNALL GLEESON becoming a barrister and moving into a flat. Then he meets RACHEL MCADAMS at a restaurant and finally the plot of the movie can start.

RACHEL MCADAMS

I’m the female romantic lead in a Richard Curtis movie, so naturally I’m generic, blandly congenial, and unusually attracted to awkward dweebs.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

And here I was thinking Curtis had finally gotten over his weird American fetish.

They hit it off and DOMHNALL... seriously, “Domhnall”, that just doesn’t sound like a real name... well, he gets RACHEL’S PHONE NUMBER. But when he gets home it turns out his ASSHOLE ROOMATE TOM HOLLANDER’S PLAY was ruined by an actor FORGETTING ALL HIS LINES.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

I know, I’ll go back in time and prompt the actor using cue cards! Because apparently all the professional actors and stagehands forgot that prompting is a thing.

He goes and rescues a play featuring TEN-SECOND CAMEOS by the BEST ACTORS IN THE MOVIE. But then it turns out he NO LONGER HAS RACHEL’S PHONE NUMBER!

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Oh no, because I went and did something else instead, I didn’t meet Rachel!

TOM HOLLANDER

Um, yes? How the flying fuck did you not realize that was going to happen? There are four-year-olds in the audience facepalming at you right now.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

And shit, now there’s no way to find Rachel, since our entire conversation consisted of cutesy banter which revealed nothing of substance about her at all!

TOM HOLLANDER

What are you talking about? You go back in time again, hire any random human to go hold up cue cards for the actor, then you go back to the restaurant-

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Nothing I can do. Nope. All I know about her is that she likes Kate Moss, and what good is that?

He opens the newspaper to find that a LONDON MUSEUM is going to be holding a KATE MOSS EXHIBIT.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

...Okay, this is a romantic comedy and contrived coincidences are to be expected, but come on. This is like if she’d said she liked garlic and then it turned out GarliCon was next week.

INT. MUSEUM

DOMHNALL successfully runs into RACHEL.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Hi! Good to see you again!

FOUR-YEAR-OLDS IN AUDIENCE

Seriously, man? SERIOUSLY?

RACHEL MCADAMS

Uh, I think you have me mistaken for somebody else.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

I could run with that and turn that moronic flub into an amusing icebreaker, but I won’t. I know your name is Rachel! OTHER CREEPY THINGS!

RACHEL MCADAMS

I have to go literally anywhere else now.

(leaves)

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Bugger! I can fix this, I’ll just go back five minutes and - sorry, I mean I’ll follow her and try and keep talking to her, because I am the CRAPPIEST TIME TRAVELER EVER.

He pursues RACHEL, but soon discovers that in the nanosecond since their restaurant encounter that never happened, she’s gotten a BOYFRIEND.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

A romantic rival, blast! Fortunately I can get one over on him by going back and erasing their relationship from time. They’ve only been together for a week, so it’s only a little bit cosmically horrifying.

He goes back to just before RACHEL meets her BOYFRIEND, and he meets for the first time for the third time.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

This time I’ve had ages to plan out what I’ll say to you, so uh, allow me to panic and blurt out your own opinions about Kate Moss to your face, apropos of nothing.

RACHEL MCADAMS

You have successfully intrigued me by holding the same interests as me! Of course you don’t really, you were just reciting words in an effort to clumsily seduce me. Way to get our relationship off to a completely dishonest start.

DOMHNALL and RACHEL start dating. A cutesy dating-each-other montage shows them being ever so whimsical together. Then one day DOMHNALL happens to run into MARGOT.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

(spazzes out horribly)

Whoops, a little time travel should fix that.

(spazzes out even worse)

Ah, fuck! A single attempt at time traveling didn’t fix things, so I give up.

MARGOT ROBBIE

This is kind of a thing with you, isn’t it.

Despite his HORRIBLE BLUNDERING, DOMHNALL actually hits it off with MARGOT. But just as she’s about to start tearing her clothes off, he comes to his senses.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Wait, I could bang Margot, but I just decided that my serious relationship with my live-in girlfriend - which I at no point mentioned to Margot - means too much to me. So instead I'll just abruptly ditch Margot with no explanation. Isn't this romantic?

MARGOT ROBBIE

This is almost the polar opposite of romantic.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Regardless, this I think sets the tone perfectly for a proposal!

He RUSHES HOME and PROPOSES TO RACHEL.

RACHEL MCADAMS

Sure, I'd love to be a time traveler's wife! ...Woah, I just got the weirdest sense of deja vu. Anyway, this is good timing what with me being pregnant and all.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Wait, did I already know about that when I nearly fucked Margot? The movie is being disturbingly vague on that point.

They get married in a cutesy wedding montage. Then they have a daughter and start raising her in a cutesy having-a-daughter-and-raising-her montage.

DIRECTOR RICHARD CURTIS

If there's such a thing as a movie that's not mostly cutesy montages, I don't want to know about it!

RACHEL MCADAMS

Um, honey, is there going to be any more conflict in our relationship any time soon? It's starting to feel like the movie ended a while ago and they just forgot to turn the cameras off.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Don't worry, I'm sure we'll hit a new crisis any time now...

(checks script)

Oh. Nope, looks like I won you and that's it, the romantic comedy part of this romantic comedy is over. I guess we'll need a new source of dramatic tension.

(thinks)

Okay, remember how I have that sister?

RACHEL MCADAMS

Um, sort of?

DOMHNALL'S SISTER gets into a CAR ACCIDENT! He goes back and prevents her from driving drunk.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Your life is a real mess, isn't it? Fortunately everything wrong with it can be conveniently traced back to a single incident, namely you hooking up with your asshole boyfriend. I'll take you back in time with me, which I've just now decided is a thing I can do!

DOMHNALL takes LYDIA back in time. They stop her from ever going out with her BOYFRIEND, then return to the present.

LYDIA WILSON

Oh hey, now I have memories of getting together with your obnoxious friend instead, and being unaccountably happy about it!

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Whilst I, arbitrarily, seem to remember nothing whatsoever about the alternate timeline we created... huh, which means I essentially just annihilated the alternate me who was living in it... that's kind of disturbing...

LYDIA WILSON

Domhnall, don't.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Come to think of it, when I go back and do stuff differently, what happens to past-me after I leave? Does he remember doing the new actions I just inserted into his personal history? Does he remember any of the future knowledge I had when I was doing them? Including, in this instance, the very fact that I can time travel?! And does - OW - MY BRAIN-

LYDIA WILSON

STOP! Jesus, didn't anybody ever teach you never to put more thought into a time-travel premise than the writer who came up with it?

While LYDIA goes home to her new UNLIKEABLE BOYFRIEND, DOMHNALL goes home only to find out OH CRAP HIS KID IS A BOY NOW.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Shit, when I made a significant change to my family's past, I inadvertently made a significant change to my family's past! Curse my inability to comprehend even the most basic principles of time travel!

BILL NIGHY

Yeah, you can't go back to a point before your kid's birth or you risk changing them. I've known this the whole time, I guess I probably should have said something.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

"Birth"? Don't you mean conception?

BILL NIGHY

Huh? What does the conception have to do with which sperm is successful, if any? You're not making any sense.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Okay then, I can fix this, I'll just go back in time to when I was about to take Lydia back in time and then not do that.

LYDIA WILSON

You mean when you were consoling me about my asshole boyfriend? We wiped that event from the timeline, you can't go back to-

DOMHNALL GLEESON

LA LA LA QUICK CONFUSING EDITS MEAN I CAN DO ANYTHING LA LA

He UN-CHANGES HISTORY. Including not preventing the CAR ACCIDENT for some reason.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

All right, Lydia, if we can't use time travel to get your life in order, we'll do it the hard way.

DOMHNALL and RACHEL sit by LYDIA'S HOSPITAL BED and STARE AT HER.

LYDIA WILSON

...Um, that's it? Staring? You could at least keep saying "It's not your fault" or something hokey like that.

DOMHNALL AND RACHEL

(staring for several days)

LYDIA WILSON

(agitated)

Say, don't you have an infant daughter at home? Shouldn't you maybe check in on her at some point? Hm?

DOMHNALL AND RACHEL

(staring for several more days)

LYDIA WILSON

OKAY JESUS I'LL GET MY LIFE IN ORDER JUST STOP STARING AAAHHHH

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Great! Well, we've used up that source of drama. Now we need to dig up some more plot somewhere.

(looks around immediate family)

All right, Dad, your turn.

BILL NIGHY

Dangit.

(dies of cancer)

On the day of BILL'S FUNERAL, DOMHNALL goes back in time to see ALIVE BILL.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Just thought I'd stop in and say hi, on my way to pay my final respects to my dear departed father, who I will miss terribly. Then maybe after the funeral I could pop back round for cocoa or something.

BILL NIGHY

Somehow this doesn't feel quite as tragic as it might have done. But in the spirit of things, I might as well give you some not-really-parting advice. Here's my method for using time travel to achieve absolute happiness.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

...Which you've been keeping a secret from me all this time because...?

BILL NIGHY

I guess mainly because it's pretty lame. See, you live each day as normal. Then at the end of the day you go back and live it over again, exactly the same, only this time you relax and appreciate how wonderful everything is.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Okay. How exactly does this work on a day when I lose a big case, or accidentally run over the cat, or fall down the stairs and break my clavicle?

BILL NIGHY

In your precious, cutesy-pie little life? I don't think it'll come up.

DOMHNALL lives his life according to BILL'S PAINFULLY TWEE ADVICE. But then one day RACHEL suggests having another kid.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Dang, if we do that I'll have to stop seeing my dad, because I won't be able to go back in time to before the concep- uh, birth. I'm not sure I can go along with this.

RACHEL MCADAMS

Hey, this could finally be a new source of conflict in our relationship! Thank God, I haven't even had any lines in this script since-

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Ah, what the hell, let's do it!

RACHEL MCADAMS

Oh COME ON.

They GET PREGNANT. Right about the time RACHEL'S BELLY starts to look COMICALLY FAKE, DOMHNALL goes back for a sad farewell to BILL, but FOR REALSIES THIS TIME.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

This is it, Dad. The birth is any time now so I can't come back again.

(pause)

Okay, I see why we went with birth instead of conception now.

BILL NIGHY

Yes, it wouldn't have had quite the same poignant tone if you'd been all, "Farewell, father, it's time for me to go and plow my wife until she can't see straight".

DOMHNALL GLEESON

Although is it really absolutely necessary for me to never ever come back? I mean, if we just hung out and didn't change the past at all-

BILL NIGHY

No, this movie is just making it a hard and fast rule, you CANNOT GO BACK to before your child is born, NOT EVER FOR ANY REASON. Now let's shit all over that concept and go hang out back when you were a kid!

They go back in time and FROLIC ON THE BEACH. What ten-year-old DOMHNALL winds up remembering about that day is ANYBODY'S GUESS.

DOMHNALL GLEESON

So the movie finally couldn't think up any new crises and we all lived happily ever after. I even wound up improving on my dad's life strategy. Now I don't even go back in time, I just live each day once and appreciate the little things as they happen. Oh hey, that's something you can do even if you don't have time travel powers!

(winks at audience)

RACHEL MCADAMS

Oh God, did we just trick everybody into watching a two-hour motivational poster?

END.

Discussion