Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel

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Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel
Faq about time travel.jpg
UK theatrical poster
Directed byGareth Carrivick
Written byJamie Mathieson
Produced byNeil Peplow
Justin Anderson Smith
StarringChris O'Dowd
Dean Lennox Kelly
Marc Wootton
Anna Faris
CinematographyJohn Pardue
Edited byStuart Gazzard
Christopher Blunden
Music byJames L. Venable
Distributed byLionsgate[1]
Release date
  • 24 April 2009 (2009-04-24)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (stylised as FAQ About Time Travel) is a 2009 British comic science fiction film directed by Gareth Carrivick from a script by Jamie Mathieson, starring Chris O'Dowd, Dean Lennox Kelly, Marc Wootton and Anna Faris.

The film follows two avid science fiction fans (O'Dowd and Wootton) and their snarky mate (Kelly) as they attempt to navigate a time travel conundrum in the middle of a British pub, where they meet a girl from the future (Faris) who sets the adventure in motion.

It was released in the UK and Ireland on 24 April 2009. On its television premiere on BBC Two on 1 August 2010, the film was dedicated to its director Gareth Carrivick, who had died a month before the film's release.


Ray (Chris O'Dowd) has been fired from his job as a costumed guide in a theme park attraction called "Star Ride," after he goes too far into character and terrifies a group of young children. Ray's good friends Pete (Dean Lennox Kelly) and Toby (Marc Wootton) also work in the theme park, as costumed dinosaurs passing out coupons to a restaurant called "Dinoburger." That evening they all go to the cinema, later complaining about how "crappy" the film was on their way to the pub.

Once at the pub, they compose a "Letter to Hollywood" with tips on how to stop making so many bad movies, on the back of a sheet from Toby's "brilliant ideas" notebook. Ray meets an American girl named Cassie (Anna Faris), with dark brown hair, who claims to have a time machine built into her body and whose job is to find and repair "time leaks." When he sarcastically says she should use her time machine to kill Hitler, she tells him about time-criminals called "editors." Editors are people that go back in time to kill famous artists immediately after they've created their greatest work, to avoid their later decline in quality. Cassie insists her job is fairly boring, but one of the perks is getting to meet famous people from history, like him. She claims that future books will be written about him, and refers to him as "Ray the Great," indicating she is not only a fan but has a bit of a crush on him. Ray assumes that his friends have set him up with Cassie to make him feel better after losing his job. But after a brief conversation Cassie leaves. When Ray relates this entire story to Pete and Toby, they think he's invented the entire encounter - which is what Cassie told him would happen.

Pete leaves them to use the "Gents" toilet, but when he returns the bar is full of dead bodies, among them a bearded version of himself. At first he hides back in the toilet, but when he finally decides to try and flee the pub entirely he hears the expected sounds one might expect in the bar. He enters the room and it's back to normal, with no bodies or sign of the slaughter. He finds his friends at their table and tells them what happened, assuming it must be related to Cassie's time leaks. Pete thinks the entire tale is a wind-up, and Ray assumes that his friends have crafted an entire evening of science-fiction based entertainment for him, even beyond hiring Cassie.

The three of them end up back in the toilet, trying to recreate what Pete experienced and jumping about 30 minutes back in time. When they return to the bar they find the earlier version of themselves, just finishing the composition of their "Letter to Hollywood." They spend some time hiding in a cupboard in the hallway, unsure what they should do other than wait for the other versions of themselves to enter the toilet and travel back in time. Ray then realizes that Cassie is still there, talking to an earlier version of himself. As she's trying to leave the pub he stops her, explaining that they found her time leak in the men's toilet, which she takes as a joke and leaves. But she returns one second later, with light brown hair in an entirely different style, having actually spent six months sorting out what went wrong at the pub that night. She claims everything has been fixed and they are safe to wait and talk in the garden for a while, because no one is due out there for another 23 minutes. But when a couple comes out ahead of schedule she leaves to investigate.

After their earlier versions go into the men's toilet, the current versions go into the women's toilet while avoiding their other selves. They assume everything is resolved, but when they leave the toilet they find themselves in a post-apocalyptic version of the pub. Pete decides to flee back into the women's toilet again, but when Ray and Toby start to follow him, he emerges from the door of the men's toilet, bearded, filthy and severely shaken. He repeatedly insists that that he doesn't want to talk about his experiences, but as they gather warm clothing, food and weapons, he describes some of the things he's seen and been through. They also find a faded mural of themselves outside, overlooking the garden, depicting them dressed in the same sweater and sweatshirts they've just scavenged from the bar. Strange sounds cause them to run for the toilet again, so that they miss seeing a building-sized ant eat a man, who is pushing a shopping trolley with a loud squeaky wheel.

While in the toilet again, Ray and Toby have to stop Pete from trying to warn earlier version of themselves, and creating a paradox that will make them cease to exist. When he runs out after one solo version of himself, they follow him out into a themed-night party at the pub. Everyone is dressed as they are now, for a look-a-like contest, and the full version of the mural is visible on the garden wall. In the mural, Toby is writing on the piece of paper from his notebook. They reason that whatever was on the other side of that piece of paper is how they became famous. In the crowd at the party they meet a second time traveller named Millie (Meredith MacNeill), who claims that she trained Cassie at their department, which she calls "Causal Adjust," and that she was sent by Cassie to take them back to their own time.

Back at their table in the pub, they read what was on the back of the piece of paper, although the contents are not disclosed to the viewers throughout the film. They express wonderment at the idea that it could have made them famous, and decide that the paper must have been found there by someone. Ray needs to relieve himself and goes to the garden to avoid entering either of the toilets again. He finds Cassie outside, for whom another six months have passed, and who now has shorter dark blonde hair. She feels too big a deal was made of their brief 30-minute jump in time, but Ray explains that they went much farther into the future and about Millie being sent to get them. Cassie tells him that Millie is an editor, "Causal Adjust" being another name for their group, and that she was sent to kill them at their finest hour. He goes back inside to warn Pete and Toby while Cassie tries to get help, but she finds that her time machine has been taken offline and she follows him in. Ray and Pete want to destroy the paper, so that Millie has no reason to kill them, but Toby is hesitant to give up their future fame. Millie arrives, incapacitates Cassie and promises Toby that she'll make them all legends if he just gives her the piece of paper. He ultimately refuses her, but as they try to destroy the paper Millie fires the armament system built into her skeletal time-travel machine, seemingly killing everyone in the pub in a matter of seconds. She leaves, with the piece of paper sitting on top of Ray, Toby and Pete's table.

An earlier version of Pete enters the bar, sees the bodies, and flees the room in horror. Just then, the bloodied Ray knocks over a pint of beer on to the piece of paper, destroying it. Time is shown reversing and resetting itself, until all three are sitting back at their table in the pub, from before any of the time travel happened, but with a full recollection of events. The piece of paper, now illegible, remains on their table. They decide to go to a different pub.

As they walk down a path towards a railway arch, Ray tells Pete that it's probably all over, because now that the page is destroyed none of the night's events should have ever happened. Moments later Cassie appears through a big glowing portal, with long golden-blonde hair. She reveals that she and Ray have been dating for two years - confirming they've had plenty of sex in that time - and that dumping the pint in the pub caused a feedback loop through the fabric of space-time resulting in time leaks everywhere. She says they have only fourteen hours to save the earth (a reference to the film Flash Gordon), and urges them to accompany her to a parallel universe. Ray eventually talks a reluctant Pete and Toby into going with him through the portal.

In a mid-credits scene, Ray emerges from behind a wall with Pete. Ray says that it appears the earlier versions of them have gone. However when Pete tells Toby he can come out, a second Pete emerges instead. In an end-credits scene, two Tobys pass by Ray and the two Petes, one fleeing from the other, with one of the Petes remarking: “This is all getting a little bit too complicated.”


Home media[edit]

The DVD was released on 7 September 2009 in the UK.[2] The film was also released DTV by HBO.


The film is a co-production between HBO Films and BBC Films. It was filmed at Pinewood Studios in the UK.[3] The credits of the film include thanks to "The Wheatsheaf Pub".


The opening credits appear in outline block letters in light blue against the background of space, in the same style as the Superman films.[4]

Many of the promotional items for this movie feature a stylized image from the film, of the male leads, standing in a line, with their right hands on their glasses (or where glasses would be if they were wearing any) while looking at their left wrists as if they were checking a watch. This mirrors promotional images from the Back to the Future franchise, that have featured both Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in the same pose.[5]


Critical reception has been mixed. As of September 2020, the film holds a 38% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 21 reviews with an average rating of 4.49/10.[6]

Empire magazine concludes "Quirky and engaging with a script that keeps you on the ride."[7] The review for the Daily Mirror's verdict was: "This engaging comedy feels like a stretched-out TV pilot, but is nicely put together, with enough laughs to make a refreshing change from usual Brit film fare."[8]

The Irish Times described it as a "mildly diverting yarn" but was critical of the small scale of the film and the apparently limited budget.[9] Peter Bradshaw reviewed the film for The Guardian and said that it was "the worst film of the week, a dire British comedy, to which the only honest response is to soil and then set fire to the Union flag in the foyer of your local cinema."[10]



  1. ^ "FAQ About Time Travel". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ FAQ About Time Travel (Frequently Asked Questions),
  3. ^ Mathieson, Jamie (16 October 2006). "Pinewood Studios Diary 1". Jamie Mathieson: Blog.
  4. ^ Rodgers, Matthew. "Close Up Film Reviews - F - Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009)". Close-Up Film Reviews. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011.
  5. ^ File:Back to the Future Part II.jpg
  6. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  7. ^ Wilding, Phil (24 April 2009). "Empire's Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel Movie Review". Empire.
  8. ^ Adams, Mark (24 April 2009). "Faq About Time Travel". Daily Mirror.
  9. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel". The Irish Times. 24 April 2009.
  10. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (24 April 2009). "Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel review". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012.

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