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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Timeline (review)

You Call This Archeology?

There’s not enough Bruce Campbell in this medieval action comedy. I kept expecting him to fall out of the sky with his clunker car and his chainsaw and berate the primitive screwheads and demonstrate the power of his boomstick, and he kept failing to do so. So the not-enough amount of Bruce Campbell present is, in fact, zero. Bruce, I’m very disappointed.

There’s also not enough Cary Elwes in this medieval action comedy. People keep getting thrown into Piths of Desthpair and it keeps not being Cary Elwes. I’m not sure who is responsible for this oversight, but I intend to complain to the management.

What’s that? You say Timeline isn’t supposed to be a comedy? But how can that be? Paul Walker (2 Fast 2 Furious, Joy Ride) is in it. He’s very pretty, if you like Ken dolls, but he can’t actually act, so surely director Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon 4, Conspiracy Theory) would not have cast him if he didn’t intend us to chortle every time he opens his mouth. Right? He doesn’t even take his shirt off once, so it can’t be the Ken-doll thing that Donner wanted him for.

Come on: You’re telling me that it’s not supposed to be a joke that it’s an evil clone of Bill Gates (David Thewlis) who accidentally discovers time travel while trying to put the overnight-shipping industry out of business? But it’s funny. And it’s not supposed to be funny when he sends known comedian Billy Connolly (White Oleander, Who Is Cletis Tout?) back in time to 14th-century France? France? Isn’t “France” the punchline of every crosscultural joke these days?

Okay, I’ll concede that there might be a serious story to be found in sending a team of present-day archeologists back in time to 14th-century France, right to the very spot they’ve been excavating in the 21st century, and landing them in the middle of the Hundred Years War between France and England. But c’mon: This can’t be it. Can it? It’s too funny. It’s funny the first time one of the archeologists, at the dig, points out some medieval doodad and wonders aloud, “What hands can it be that wrought this divine whosamawhatsit?” and you just know that that very philosophical archeologist will turn out to have been those very hands once he travels back in time. It’s even more funny the second and third and fourth time: “Imagine who could have done this.” “Simply ponder the mind that might have achieved that.” And it always turns out to be someone like Paul Walker. Which is really funny.

And it’s even funnier how they all invariably utter the exact same words when they make these discoveries that we’ve seen coming since the opening credits: “Oh my god.” “Oh my god.” “Oh my god.” “Oh my god.” “Oh my god.”

Oh my god, how can this not be a comedy? Wasn’t it originally called Paul Walker’s Excellent Adventure? No? I must have been misinformed.

Timeline also Gerard Butler’s (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Reign of Fire) excellent adventure, and he does take his shirt off once and has a lovely Scottish accent, but still, he’s no Bruce Campbell, and I’d have preferred Bruce fully clothed.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences and brief language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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