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Review: Decades pass, actors change, but romantic drama ‘Emily & Tim’ remains forgettable

Alexis Bledel and Kal Penn in the movie "Emily & Tim."
(Mar Vista Digital Entertainment)

“Emily & Tim” is a nostalgic drama that utilizes six diverse sets of actors to play the title couple at various points in their 50-year marriage. But an intriguing casting gimmick can’t mask a story — and a relationship — that’s largely unremarkable.

Divided into six “acts,” the film, based on writer-director Eric Weber’s short story “The Pact,” opens in the 1950s when nursing student Emily (Zosia Mamet) and the bookish Tim (Thomas Mann) first meet. By the 1960s, the couple (now played by Alexis Bledel and Kal Penn) is adjusting to married life.

The “swingin’” 1970s find Emily (Cara Buono) and Tim (Dominic Fumusa) sexually tempted by others while, in the following decade, the marrieds morph into a gay male couple (Malcolm Gets, David Pittu) with health and employment issues.

Next, Emily and Tim are reimagined as an African American pair (Phylicia Rashad, Andre Braugher) presiding over their daughter’s unlikely wedding. Bookending and peppering these chapters are the elderly Emily (Olympia Dukakis) and Tim (Louis Zorich, Dukakis’ real-life husband,) as cranky end-of-lifers. It’s all tied together by dispensable voiceover narration by the ever-throaty Kathleen Turner.

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Disparate actors aside, Emily and Tim don’t feel all that emotionally consistent over the years; they’re a few puzzle pieces short of a finished jigsaw. Effective production design, though, nicely evokes the movie’s string of decades.

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‘Emily & Tim’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD


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