Genre: Fantasy, Drama
Do you love time-travel movies? I know I do! I don’t even care what genre it is. I get enthralled in everything from Back to the Future’s action-comedy to The Lake House’s dramatic-romance. The thought of being able to transport yourself through time is intriguing and I can honestly say that Time Changer made me really wish I had a time machine. Unfortunately, that’s because I wanted to go back in time and get those two hours of my life back. While there was nothing Biblically-inaccurate about the message, and I do feel that they made the film with good intentions; it was poorly acted, the storyline was strangely unexciting, and I can only assume that any non-believers who watch this film won’t be racing each other to get to church.
Time Changer is the story of Russell Carlisle (D. David Morin), a Bible Professor in in 1890, who writes a book he wants endorsed by his seminary. There is one man, however, who is standing in his way. That man is fellow-professor Norris Anderson (Gavin MacLeod). He doesn’t agree with the book because it states that it is acceptable to teach morals alone. Anderson explains that when you teach morals, you should give credit to Jesus Christ, the one who created them. In order to show Carlisle the consequences of separating the two, he uses his secret time machine to send him to the 21st century. Time Changer stars D. David Morin (A Vow to Cherish, The Roar), Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat, Mary Tyler Moore), Jennifer O’Neill (I’m Not Ashamed, Last Ounce of Courage), Hal Linden (Barney Miller, Out to Sea), and Paul Rodriguez (Rat Race, A Cinderella Story).
As previously stated, nothing in this film was blasphemous and I feel that this project was made with good intentions. Sometimes, though, even good intentions can’t save a movie. In the case of this film, most of the message was lost in a sea of examples that did not always support the main point. This point being that you shouldn’t separate morals from Christianity. In other words, just being a “good person” isn’t enough. While the Paul Rodriguez character, Eddie Martinez, highlighted the point nicely, there were seemingly a million other moments that didn’t make sense. In the course of the movie, Carlisle is horrified by teenage girls talking about drinking and sneaking out of the house, seeing a little boy watching people kiss on television, and hearing church parishioners treat the church more as a social club than a place of worship. How do any of those things tie into the main point? They don’t. The writers of Time Changer went on way too many tangents and left the viewer feeling overwhelmed and slightly confused as to what they were supposed to take away from the film.
In addition, the writers also made a questionable decision when they decided to make the antagonists two people Carlisle met at church. They were obviously making the point that even people who attend church aren’t without sin and that there are problems within the church. I can’t completely disagree with this point, but I also worry how non-believers and first-time Christians would take this message. Instead of understanding that we all need to be saved from our sins through Jesus, they could jump to the faulty conclusion that faith in Jesus doesn’t make a difference or, even worse, that Christians are lying hypocrites.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, the writers also did the unbelievable…made a time-travel movie boring. Where were the fun sets and costumes from other eras? Basically non-existent. the 1800s were barely shown at all and Carlisle spent almost the entire movie in our era. So did he have fun reactions to the different things he saw here? No. We just got to watch an entire montage of him repeating words back to people. For instance, if someone said, “And over there is your TV.” His response would be, “TV?” If someone said, “We’re going to take the van to the movie theatre.” He would say, “Van?” You get the point. Lastly, just to put the nail in this boring proverbial coffin: almost the entire film was filled with serious discussions about how the world now is horrible. If I wanted that, I could just turn on the news.
At this point, I almost hate to go on with the review. I’m starting to feel a little bad that I’m not able to say more nice things about a Christian film that tried. So to put myself out of my misery, I’ll end with the fact that the acting was painful to watch. Now to be clear, I’m not talking about the acting of the supporting actors. Gavin MacLeod, Paul Rodriguez, and the rest of the supporting cast did a great job. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the main actor, D. David Morin. His performance was monotone and I can’t say I believed his character in the slightest. The truly difficult part about this is that his character is the one the movie centers around, making every scene seem unrealistic.
WHAT AGE GROUP IS IT FOR?
Although not inappropriate in any way, Time Changer is best left for adults. This is because of the vast amount of serious discussions that would be more appealing to a mature attention span. Also, I would not recommend it for un-believers or new Christians. The material is best for people with an already mature faith walk. My reasoning is explained above.
LOOKING TO SHOW IT AT CHURCH?
Personally, I wouldn’t show this movie at church. While there are some good points made, there are many other, more effective, films to pull from. However, if you do want to show it, I would show it in clips. The two scenes with Carlisle and Eddie Martinez in the laundromat would be good to show if you wanted to confront the popular, and misguided, idea that being a “good person” is simply good enough.