10 Time Travel Movies That Are Not Sci-Fi (According To IMDb)


When moviegoers point to their favorite time travel movies, they think of franchises like Back to the FutureMen in Black, or The Terminator. Films as concerned with the how and why as they are with the who and when.

RELATED: The 10 Best Time Travel Movies, According To Rotten Tomatoes

However, many of the most beloved films that used time travel as a major narrative device succeed in telling resonate stories that avoid resolving its time travel-related uncertainties with scientific measures. The following ten films involve time travel, but they are in no way considered Sci-Fi.

10 Groundhog Day (1993)

It may follow video game logic more than it does free-flow through various periods of time. Nevertheless, the Bill Murray-fronted film qualifies.

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The film is unique in that the conflict its plot rides on - a weatherman who finds himself stuck in a time-loop - is never resolved. While films like Donnie DarkoSource Code and Edge of Tomorrow dealt with its time-loop narratives by explaining, then subsequently deploying scientific reversal methods, Groundhog Day doubled down and focused exclusively on the characters. Specifically, grounding the events in realistic reactions to such outlandish circumstances - thereby allowing the film to become the massive hit many felt it would not have been had the cause of the time-loop been revealed as originally planned.

9 Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

What mattered most about Francis Ford Coppola's nostalgic teen romp was leaning into the fantasy rather than the sci-fi.

In this ultimate "re-do"-based picture, Kathlene Turner's Peggy Sue gets to do it all over again when she faints at a reunion and is sent back to her glory years. Given the chance to fix past mistakes, she instead finds herself repeating them - arguably making the film a time-loop based narrative in its own right. Yet it never dares to attempt operation outside of the vaguely possible. While implausible in actuality, the film connects to viewers by playing to the requiem they may find by blowing the dust off their old yearbooks, as opposed to rifling through "Quantum Theory for Dummies" books.

8 Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Before they were handed the keys to the rejuvenated Jurassic Park franchise - of which much of the original cast is coming back for Jurassic World 3, director Colin Trevorrow and scribe Derek Connolly struck gold with their 2012 acclaimed indie collaboration.

In the film, a few Seattle magazine writers respond to a wanted ad that puts them in lockstep with an eccentric who believes he has discovered time travel. A bond quickly forms between Audrey Plaza's jaded protagonist and their desired story subject (Mark Duplass). While the third act revolves on proving whether or not his claims hold merit, its first two legs tackle loss as a crippling agent that theoretically demands time travel's existence so the regretable can be undone.

7 Pleasantville (1998)

When '90s teenage siblings find themselves trapped in a 1950's sitcom, all involved see their lives change in inordinate ways.

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A tagline that sells as much as it explains how a picture can effectively depict time travel without introducing laboratory experiments into the mix. As their personalities, social cues, and behavioral tendencies clash with those living in an era five decades less advanced (and that much more proper than them), Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon's teenage characters find themselves in for a rude awakening. One where they may not have immediate access to a so-called reversal potion, but sure wish they did.

6 Midnight in Paris (2012)

After stumbling upon a ride out of the 21st century and into the 1920s after the clock strikes midnight, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson, the latest A-lister to join the MCU) finds himself repeating the voyage on a nightly basis. He socializes with the likes of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and much more while gaining the inspiration to write like he never has before.

As is the case with other films of similar motivation, Midnight in Paris is not as concerned with explaining how the time travel works as much as it is with what release it provides for its characters. Case-in-point: the film's lead, Gil, only feels alive when existing in a time before he was (alive).

5 Click (2006)

In what essentially played as Happy Madison's update of It's a Wonderful Life! came an expectation-subverting gem that was one-part on-brand silliness and two-parts tearjerker.

In this 2006 film, Adam Sandler plays a workaholic who grows too trigger-happy with the universal remote he has been gifted. By the third act, an irreversible autopilot feature sees him having sped to the literal finish line of his life: he missed out on his family, leaving little time for him to repair relationships he was too careless to prioritize when he should have. The conflict's resolution did not call for sci-fi theatrics to save the day. Yet the film's ultra-futuristic vision of 2023 leads one to wonder how close the filmmakers were from having an extraterrestrially-dressed Kevin James fly into town with a spaceship.

4 Kate & Leopold (2001)

Before they collaborated on the final two installments in the X-Men franchise's Wolverine trilogy, Hugh Jackman and James Mangold discovered their creative rapport on the 2001 romantic comedy Kate & Leopold.

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While a box-office failure, the film received multiple Golden Globe nominations. Jackman plays a nineteenth-century Duke who is brought to 2001 New York by way of a portal. The ultimate fish-out-of-water story, Kate & Leopold sure does build toward Jackman's Leopold finding his way back home. But not before a romance plot determines who should be by his side when he returns.

3 13 Going on 30 (2004)

Whereas Peggy Sue Got Married sent an adult Kathleen Turner back to her youth, 2004's 13 Going on 30 sent its lead ahead from her teenage years onto adulthood. As the older iteration of Jenna Rink, Jennifer Garner navigates the overwhelming new terrain by clinging to the past - her best friend Matty (Mark Ruffalo) - whom she unknowingly abandoned in the time between her magic dust-ignited travels.

Structurally, the film is built as typically as a romantic comedy can get, equipped with an 80s-heavy soundtrack that refuses to back off even in the present-day. While the lead demanded a jump ahead, it is the pull of the past that will ultimately call for another act of sci-fi-eluding, wish-fulfilling magic.

2 Somewhere In Time (1980)

The late Christopher Reeve dispelled any-and-all murmurs of him being a one-trick, Superman-exclusive pony when he fronted 1980's romantic fantasy Somewhere in Time along with Jane Seymour.

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As Chicago playwright Richard Collier, Reeve undergoes hypnosis to travel back in time and pursue a courtship with Seymour's character - an actress whom he first encountered as the subject of a painting. No DeLorean or phone booth time machines were needed for the uncaped Reeve's travels, no disrespect to Doc and Marty or Bill and Ted. Just the belief in the magic and time-transcending nature of love.

1 The Austin Powers Trilogy (1997-2002)

YEAH BABY! The spy spoof series runs at a jokes-per-minute pace so unprecedently fast that fans who regularly covet repeat views may not remain as plot-focused as they once did.

Thus, it proves vital to remind that each Austin Powers plot was as dependent on time travel as the next. If the series was not commenting on the absurdity of one culture fad after another with its characters' slew of dated catchphrases and wardrobe selections, it would not be what many still love it for to this day. Additionally, being a comedy unconcerned with absolute cohesion meant logic in time travel plot navigation could be thrown out the Shaguar's window - so long as the joke told in the process had royally landed.

NEXT: 5 Shows That Did Time Travel Right (And 5 That Didn't)

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