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Time To Cry: Top Seven Romantic Time Travel Movies [Movies]

A couple is at home on a Saturday night and he wants to watch a sci-fi movie, but she wants romance. What to do? Here's a list of surprisingly romantic science-fiction films based around time travel.

When we think of science-fiction we tend to think of guy stuff. But, every now and then, a movie comes along that manages to combine sci-fi and romance.

Here are seven movies about mailboxes, bridges, DeLorean's and photographs that bring two people together in love.

7. Deja Vu (2006)

After a terrorist attack in New Orleans, Special Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) joins a group that has a machine that allows him to investigate the crime through time. Along the way he falls in love with one of the victims, Paula Patton (Claire Kuchever).
How's the Science? The science is plausible, using lots of technical explanations and diagrams. It's realistic enough that you can ignore it.
Why Does It Work? It's another long distance relationship, but it works. He falls in love with her just by watching her. Some call that "stalking." But, when it's Denzel, it becomes sweet.

6. The Butterfly Effect (2004)

A young man Evan (Ashton Kutcher) discovers that he can use his journals to travel back in time to his past. Every time he changes something in his past his present changes dramatically. In the end, it turns out the changes he makes affects the girl he's been in love with most of his life.
How's the Science? Incredibly vague. The ability is implied to be genetically passed from father to son and based on memories.
Why Does It Work? The amount of chaos Evan creates for himself affects not just himself, but those he loves. It's his love for his girl, and his goatie, that motivates him. Touching enough to give a tear or two.

5. The Lake House (2006)
Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) moves into a lake house in 2004 and Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) does the same in 2006. The two communicate through letters sent through time in the mailbox.
How's the Science? There is no science. Not unless a warp core was hidden in the mail box. Guys might have some trouble with the lack of sci-fi, but a shocking twist makes the movie less boring than a commercial for the post office.
Why Does It Work? The two develop the ultimate long-distance relationship. There are the usual challenges and misunderstandings. But, in the end, they finally build a relationship together.

4. Somewhere in Time (1980)
Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour
 Adapted from the classic novel "Bid Time Return" by Richard Matheson, who also wrote "I Am Legend," Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) falls in love with a woman in a photograph, named Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), and travels back to the early 1900s to meet her.
How's the Science? Collier travels back thanks to self-hypnosis. Dodgy at best.
Why Does It Work? Starting with an elderly woman telling him they've fallen in love he works backwards and falls in love with her before he ever meets her. Twisty and bizarre, the movie works thanks to the acting talents of Reeve and Seymour. The ending is kind of strange, but if you like period dramas, it delivers.

3. Back to the Future Part III (1990)

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) has to travel back to the 1800s to rescue his inventor friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). But, there's a problem besides the lack of plutonium. Doc falls in love with a local school 'marm Clara Clayton (Mary Steenberg) and it might jeopardize their return to the future.
How's the Science? Who can argue with the flux capacitor? Plus, there's a time traveling train.
Why Does It Work? While the first two films were about love and loss, this one is the most poignant. It focuses on the perpetually lonely Doc Brown. In the end, he is ready to give up everything because of his love for her.

2. Kate & Leopold (2001)
Duke Leopold (Hugh Jackman) travels through a hole in time and meets Kate (Meg Ryan). The liberated Kate finds herself drawn to the old-school gentlemanly charms of Leopold.
How's the Science? Something about wormholes on bridges.
Why Does It Work? It exploits the old adage that there are no gentlemen left in the world. It also asks the question: Do modern women really want to be swept off their feet by a charming duke?

1. The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

The ultimate collision between romance and sci-fi. An age old story. Boy meets girl. Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) and Claire Abshire (Rachel McAdams) meet and fall in love. Unfortunately, he shifts uncontrollably to points in his past and future. Meanwhile, his wife is left alone for months while he waits to come back to the present. 
How's the Science? The science is pretty vague. It's only identified as a genetic disorder. But, it's thought out well enough that you can forget it.
Why Does It Work? What makes this movie work is the relationship with his wife. If he could travel in time at will, the story would have been totally different and a lot less moving. Paradoxes abound as the past, present and future work for and against them.

So, there you have it. Seven movies that can answer the timeless question of what a man and a woman can watch together without arguing. Now if only we can get past the toilet seat problem we'd finally have peace.

Did you see any of these movies? What do you think of the list? Can you think of a film that a nerd and a romantic can both enjoy?


  1. Ha! Nice collection! I've only seen Somewhere in Time (which I love, and was filmed on Mackinac Island in Michigan--an island that allows no vehicles and FEELS like time travel to visit)--I loved that movie. A few of these definitely look worth watching, so thanks for the recommendations!

  2. My favorite romantic time travel movie is The Terminator. Where's that one the list???

  3. Tony Laplume, Scouring MonkMay 30, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I loved The Time Traveler's Wife.

  4. I haven't seen Somewhere in Time and Kate and Leopold, though I especially enjoyed Deja vu and The Time Traveller's Wife. I agree with Miss Hennessy about The Terminator, even though it did scare me to bits as a kid. That had more to do with the awesome soundtrack than anything else though. :)

  5. Alex J. CavanaughMay 30, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Forgot about Kate and Leopold. That was a cute movie. And agree with SL - the best one was the first Terminator. Now that was some intense love!

  6. Thanks Hart! I haven't seem "Somewhere in Time" in years so it's nice to hear people still remember it. That sounds like a great place to visit.

  7. Oh yeah S.L.! Good call. If I get enough suggestions I'll do a part II.

  8. Tony, it's good stuff. Lots of twists.

  9. Alex, I completely forgot about the romance with all the robots.

  10. Or, Kate & Leopold - how does it work? Doesn't.

    Can't fault your other choices though, although have you seen Source Code yet?

  11. I have seen Source Code Sci-Fi Gene. Thats a good one too. Number two for part II.

  12. Wait a minute! How about we knock The Lake House off this list and add Time After Time?

  13. Loved Somewhere in Time and Kate & Leopold. The Terminator is my fave time travel romance, though.

  14. Maybe Craig. I've never seen Time After Time. Is it any good?

  15. Time After Time & Source Code were pretty good films.

  16. Melissa, who knew Terminator was such a popular romantic movie? Thanks for sharing

  17. Thanks WD. Two more votes for TAT and SC.

  18. I still really like it - but those I showed it to recently said meh.

  19. How about Happy Accidents? That's time travel right?

  20. Matt, I've never seen that movie, but one more and we have another for the follow-up list. Thanks for the add!
    Subject: [geektwins] Re: Time To Cry: Top Seven Romantic Time Travel Movies [Movies] ~ The Geek Twins

  21. Here's a couple for you to consider that weren't on your list. Just visiting, and The Love Letter? That's a Hallmark film, and it made me cry at the end. And what about Peggy Sue got married? Oh, and Before you say I do. I love that one to, another Hallmark.

  22. Larry A SingletonJune 12, 2014 at 4:04 AM

    I saw this movie years ago. I'm kicking myself because I can't remember the movie but the fact that this movie isn't in this list is another indication of how nobody has any class today. I can't find it anywhere. It was made in the fiftie's I think. It' starts out in black and white and then....

  23. If you remember the title let me know! I’d love to see it Larry.

  24. I've seen them all! They are great choices. Have you seen "The Love Letter?" Only the letter actually travels but it is a good romantic/nerd choice.


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