Hollywood often reserves the subject of time travel for the sci-fi and superhero genres. However, some of the best films surrounding time travel actually have nothing to do with sci-fi at all. From romance to horror, the subject of journeying through the eras has successfully crossed genres to give us fun, thought-provoking stories that break the boundaries of Hollywood and provide something for everyone.
Whether you're a romantic-comedy type or love watching torrents of blood and guts, the subject of time travel has plenty of cinematic gems you are sure to love. As a means of narrowing down our definition of time travel, we've refrained from listing movies that include science-heavy machines or devices, or a Doc Brown-type character who explains how the time travel is happening.
If you're fascinated with time travel but not into sci-fi and superheroes, it's OK. We've got your back. So without further ado, here is our list of the best non-sci-fi films to get you through the summer heat.
1. Army Of Darkness (1992) — Horror/Comedy
- Release Date: 2/19/1993
- Director: Sam Raimi
- Cast: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert
Why you should take the trip: The cult classic Army of Darkness is the third installment of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead franchise. The laugh-out-loud horror film uses time travel to send its main character Ash (Bruce Campbell) back to the Middle Ages to battle the undead. It's campy, loud and full of zombies, so if you're a horror or Shaun of the Dead fan, this is right up your alley. The film series inspired the current show on Starz, Ash vs Evil Dead, starring the original Ash, Bruce Campbell.
2. Somewhere In Time (1980) — Romance
- Release Date: 10/3/1980
- Director: Jeannot Szwarc
- Cast: Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer
Why you should take the trip: Somewhere in Time is a breathtakingly tragic romance about a pair of soul mates separated by time. The film stars two familiar faces, Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, as lovers born in different decades. You will fall in love with the classic tale, but fair warning: It leaves audiences ugly crying, Titanic style, in a very "I'll never let go, Jack" kind of way.
3. Donnie Darko (2001) — Psychological Thriller
- Release Date: 10/26/2001
- Director: Richard Kelly
- Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell
Why you should take the trip: In one of the strangest and most heavily analyzed psychological thrillers to date, Donnie Darko starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Jenna Malone and Drew Barrymore, and amassed a huge cult following since its indie release. Donnie Darko deals with time travel within multiple universes as well as a God theme. It's twisted, confusing and will make you think, but paying attention won't be an issue with all of the suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
4. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) — Comedy
- Release Date: 10/10/1986
- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Cast: Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Barry Miller, Jim Carrey
Why you should take the trip: Peggy Sue Got Married is an Academy Award-nominated film starring Nicolas Cage in his glory days. The film follows Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner), as she prepares for divorce from her high school sweetheart Charlie (Cage). After fainting, she mysteriously finds herself sent back in time to her high school senior year. Throughout the film she attempts to separate herself from Charlie. However, the past helps Peggy see both the future and her young beloved in a new light.
5. The Butterfly Effect (2004) — Thriller
- Release Date: 1/23/2004
- Directors: Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber
- Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters
Why you should take the trip: If you're interested in watching a windy road of crazy that explores the effects of altering the past to save the future, then The Butterfly Effect might be right up your alley. The film deals with the concept of what is called the butterfly effect, defined as "small causes that have large effects," in this case in relation to time travel. The altering of past events for the better creates massive consequences in Evan's (Kutcher) future. But once he's traveled down the rabbit hole, will he be able to find his way out?
6. 13 Going On 30 (2004) — Comedy
- Release Date: 4/23/2004
- Director: Gary Winick
- Cast: Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer
Why you should take the trip: Starring Jennifer Garner as an awkward 13-year-old girl who gets transported into her adult version, 13 Going On 30 is a sweet and genuine film that's fun for the whole family. After briefly enjoying the freedom of adulthood, Jenna soon finds the 30-year-old self she thought she would become isn't quite the dream come true. All in all, it's a feel-good tale of self-acceptance and growing up.
7. About Time (2013) — Drama
- Release Date: 11/08/2013
- Director: Richard Curtis
- Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Why you should take the trip: About Time is a time travel drama following Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), a young man who discovers he has the ability to time travel and decides to use it to change the past for his ideal future, which involves going back to improve his love-life. In doing so, he meets his soul mate Mary (Rachel McAdams). Although About Time might sound like a run-of-the-mill romance, it's so much more. This touching story deals with learning to live each day to its fullest and appreciating what you have while you can.
8. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) — Comedy
- Release Date: 3/26/2010
- Director: Steve Pink
- Cast: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson
Why you should take the trip: John Cusack, Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry relive a blast from the past in this hilarious time traveling saga. Hot Tub Time Machine follows three hapless high school friends as they take a weekend for themselves to reestablish their bond. Only, the trip takes a turn when they stumble upon a time traveling hot tub and the ability to relive their pasts. Think of this movie as the ultimate weekend away with your best friends where you can, in fact, know then what you know now.
9. Groundhog Day (1993) — Comedy
- Release Date: 2/12/1993
- Director: Harold Ramis
- Cast: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Why you should take the trip: I got you babe! I got you babe! Every day, weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) finds himself waking up to his alarm playing Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe," and living the same day over and over again. Groundhog Day, to be precise. Phil hilariously copes with repetition in one of Murray's most beloved roles to date. Groundhog Day is more than just comedy, with the theme of how living a good, honest life means more than personal gain.
10. The Lake House (2006) — Romance
- Release Date: 6/16/2006
- Director: Alejandro Agresti
- Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer
Why You Should Take The Trip: Speed stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are brought back together, only this time there are no bomb-ridden buses involved. In The Lake House, they play man and woman who share a lake house in Wisconsin — but two years apart. Having never met, their only means of communication is through the house's mysterious mailbox. The film is a timeless romance that leaves the viewer thinking about all the what-ifs and maybes in life, and if they even matter.
11. Midnight In Paris (2011)- Romantic Comedy
- Release Date: 6/10/2011
- Director: Woody Allen
- Cast: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Marion Cotillard
Why You Should Take The Trip: Woody Allen's Academy Award-winning Midnight In Paris will transport you back to the artistic renaissance of France, experienced through the eyes of a dreamer. The romance of the film is not reserved for just the characters, but also for the audience, who falls in love with the colorful incarnations of real-life literary and artistic greats in their natural habitat. Be prepared to experience magic on this trip into the past.
12. Brigadoon (1954)- Musical
- Release Date: 9/08/1954
- Director: Vincente Minnelli
- Cast: Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse
Why you should take the trip: If you are someone that enjoys the classic magic of movies and musicals Brigadoon is a must-see. It's Gene Kelly at his best when musicals were at their peak in Hollywood and it simply doesn't get better than that. Originally a Broadway musical, Brigadoon follows two hunters in Scotland who stumble into a village not listed on their map. The people of the town act and dress like they are from a different century and Tommy (Kelly( soon finds out it's a mystical town that only appears once every 100 years-then disappears back into time 100 prior. Brigadoon soon gives Tommy reason to stay- but is it worth being trapped in one place for all of time?
13. Twelve Monkeys (1996) - Thriller
- Release Date: 1/05/1996
- Director: Terry Gilliam
- Cast: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt
Why you should take the trip: 12 Monkeys is certainly up there with some of the more intelligent and character strong time travel movies out there. It follows a convict (Willis) from the future that is sent back in time to trace the origin of the virus that has nearly wiped out the human race completely. This twisted trip with have your heading turning at every corner and you may even start to think you are losing your mind. But don't worry-time travel makes everyone a little...crazy.
14. Kate and Leopold (2001)- Romance
- Release Date: 12/25/2001
- Director: James Mangold
- Cast: Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber
Why you should take the trip: Meg Ryan. Hugh Jackman. Do you need any more reason? Leopold (Jackman) travels through a time portal taking him from 1876 to modern day New York. There he meets Kate (Ryan)- a chaotic stuffy executive. Watching the pair from different centuries fall in love is absolutely magical and will have you wishing you had your own 19th love affair to time travel for. Kate and Leopold is a must see for all romance aficionados.
15. Looper (2012)- Action Thriller
- Release Date: 9/28/2012
- Director: Rian Johnson
- Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt
Why you should take the trip: If you were sent to kill you future self-could you do it? As a Looper, Joe (Levitt) is sent to kill people in the future on behalf of criminal organizations. Only the time finally comes to close the loop and kill his future self-only future Joe (Willis) refuses to let that happen. Looper takes time travel to a whole new level by exploring what the world could be like if we had the power to change the future. Also the film is worth watching for Joseph Gordon-Levitt's special effects makeup making him look more like Bruce Willis alone.
No Sci-Fi, No Problem!
You don't have to subject yourself to complicated plots with CGI machinery in order to get your time travel fix. Now you can be the one to tell your sci-fi-loving friends more about films they should be watching. My bet is if they give this list a chance, they may realize that time travel as a plot device not exclusively for the sci-fi genre, and one they might actually enjoy themselves.
What are of your favorite time traveling films that don't fit into the sci-fi category?