Poor Rachel McAdams. Three time-travel movies and not a whiff of the action. First was 2009’s The Time Traveller’s Wife, in which Eric Bana played a Chicago librarian darting through time while his on-screen wife McAdams plodded on faithfully in the present. Then, two years later, came Midnight in Paris. Owen Wilson got to party in the roaring 1920s every day of his holiday, while oblivious fiancee McAdams went sightseeing. And now Richard Curtis’s new film, About Time, sees McAdams stay home as her partner Domhnall Gleeson goes time-travelling in secret, in a bid to change his past and have a better future. This time it’s a gift – passed down the male line of the family.
McAdams is not alone in being overlooked. From 1981’s Time Bandits to the more recent Hot Tub Time Machine, sci-fi films have rarely allowed female characters to leave the present. When Marty McFly’s girlfriend tried to come along for the ride in Back to the Future II, she was hastily sedated by the Doc for “asking too many questions”. In their excellent adventures, Bill and Ted travelled to medieval times to meet some “babes”; true, the women were then permitted to time-travel – but only with male characters, and purely to serve their needs.