To the future screenwriters of The Time Traveler’s Wife
Updated: Sep 5, 2018
If I had a time-traveling mailbox (like the one featured in the movie The Lake House [an actually good time-traveling romance]) I’d put this letter in:
To those more concerned with crowd-pleasing than delivering an appropriate adaptation,
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a novel of the highest literary standards that is also filled with complex emotions and mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for some audiences. If you’re going to commit to make this movie you need to accept the fact that some people will not like it and object to it for reasons of moral ickiness. However, these people probably didn’t read this book, and if they did, they put it down before getting to the really pornographic details like Henry performing oral sex on himself when he was 15 (because what guy wouldn’t try that if he could time travel?) or Claire and Henry stripping a teenager naked and tying him to a tree for roughing Claire up on a date when she was 17, so they’re most likely not going to show-up and picket your movie anyway. So you are free to actually use the novel as a basis for your script and not hide within a horribly sappy romance with no direction or plot or even comprehension that even the masses you were attempting to pander to won’t like.
No one is a fan of pedophilia or anything that even hints at it, but Henry is in a unique situation as he is a time traveler and your audience will understand that, especially if they read the book and chances are, as it was a bestseller, they did. Henry meets the love of his life when she’s 20, marries her and then meets her when she’s 8 and she grows up knowing him as a friend. So what? He doesn’t touch her until she’s 18, so why completely cut all the background information necessary to understand their romance instead of exploring it, leaving us to wonder why they’re together as their love seems to be based on absolutely nothing? Don’t shy away from the subject matter so much that you actually turn your back on the very thing that makes the story different to create something that doesn’t resemble the book it’s based on in any way outside of the character names and some poorly selected scenes.
What are you thinking? Please re-write this script so that we don’t have another Eric Bana/Hulk situation on our hands where someone comes along only five years later to remake your movie—starring Edward Norton this time—because you did such a bad job. But since me sending this letter would result in a paradox if this actually worked (meaning, I would never send you this letter from the future if you actually made a good movie), go ahead and ruin one of my favorite books with your inadequate movie. Someone else will remake it in five years anyway, and Edward Norton is a good actor and could actually handle the part. (Rachel McAdams can stay. She’s awesome, and it’s not her fault you’re bad writers and complete prudes. Seriously, the Notebook was racier than this.) But it’s going to be awkward for you when McAdams eventually accepts an Academy Award for a movie with the same title as yours.