Learning life lessons from time travel (#SFWApro)

MY MOTHER THE MERMAID (2004) is a Korean drama of the type I’m all too familiar with: a young woman frustrated with her mother’s constant demands bicycles into her mother’s hometown to discover it’s now 30 years ago and she and Mom are the same age (and, of course, bond like sister). This didn’t work for me at all (even if I hadn’t seen the same elements done better, it’s too long and dull a drama to fly with me), making me wonder if it has some Korean aspect I’m not picking up or if Korean audiences had the same reaction. “Even though I keep looking at you, I still miss my mother.”

BROTHER FUTURE (1991) is a TV movie (which means I should have included it in Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan, but I didn’t) in which a black street hustler gets hurled back to 1822 and discover slavery is even worse than they told him in high school. This spends way too much time on the protagonist’s anachronistic confusion (though this time it might be my personal overexposure to such things) and the Horrors of Slavery come off like a tamer Roots; Devil’s Arithmetic did much better with a similar concept. Tying the time trip in with Denmark Vessey’s (Carl Lumbly) slave revolt was a nice touch, though. I am surprised the couple the hero helps save at the end don’t turn out to be his ancestors. “Never do anything to give one of your brothers to the lash.”

SPLIT INFINITY (1992) has an ambitious young girl trading places with her 1929 distant relative and lookalike (Berkeley Square is the obvious double bill) which leaves her dealing with the usual culture clash, plus trying to talk her grandfather out of selling the family farm to invest in the sure riches of the stock market. A nice little ending twist doesn’t redeem all the cliches—I’m beginning to long for a story where instead of learning life lessons, the time traveler comes home meaner and more selfish than before. “You are about to meet Mr. Discipline.”

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Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

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