SOMEWHERE IN TIME -- AMC Academy 6, K-B Crystal, NTI State, Roth's Parkway, Showcase Vienna, Springfield Mall, Wheaton Plaza.
The ultimate nostalgia movie has its hero sick with the desire to exchange a life of 1980 super-success for one of 1912 conventionality.
You would think that throwing out the steel-and-leather office chairs and putting in upholstered ones with claw feet would satisfy any yearnings for past grandeur that an acclaimed young playwright might have. But not the one in "Somewhere in Time." With the big, open, honest good looks that made Christopher Reeve such a delightfully hokey "Superman," he plays a man mad to get himself into the Edwardian era. The excuse is that he has fallen in love with the photograph of an Edwardian actress and that her being dead will come between them unless he can turn back the clock.
With so many films turning the clock forward to show us an apparently inevitably dreary, colorless, automated "future," it's refreshing to find one proceeding in the other direction. And practically every tourist knows the fantasy of half-shutting the eyes on a historical site and trying to will oneself back to its heyday. So even though this is a silly movie, it's a pleasant one. The hero's good-natured naivete is so attractively wholesome that it makes the simplistic view of the era as dear-good-old-days charming, too.
There are a few touches of real cleverness, too, rather in the style of the film of H. G. Wells' "The Time Machine." The period suit the hero bought turns out to be only approximately of the period -- the Edwardians find it humorously out of date. The lovely heroine, played by Jane Seymour, is genuinely puzzled when her suitor asks her, on first acquaintance, to use his first name.
And there is a charming sequence in which the duplication of Impressionist paintings can be deciphered. When the movie calendar flips backward, the result may be as foolish as it generally is when the calendar flips forward -- but the costumes tend to be prettier.