11 of the best time travel movies to watch on streaming

Thirty years after their last time travel adventure, Bill and Ted are back in their most excellent journey yet. Bill and Ted Face the Music, starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in their iconic slacker-metalhead roles, is out in theaters and on VOD now.

As a genre, time-travel movies can encompass a lot of different styles. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a silly, fluffy time-jumping adventure, which stands in stark juxtaposition to the hard sci-fi 12 Monkeys or the melancholy, contemplative About Time. What they all have in common is time travel as a major plot point, whether the creators do their best to explain the science or just kind of hand wave. (A time travel movie is different from a time loop movie, though, which is why you won’t find Groundhog Day, Happy Death Day, or Palm Springs — all excellent films — on this list.)

Below, we’ve rounded up 11 of our favorite time travel narratives you can watch on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max right now. Party on, dudes.


If you can stomach a narrative about a viral pandemic knocking out most of humanity, Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys is a compelling adaptation of Chris Marker’s legendary short film, La Jetée (which you can stream on Criterion Channel). The feature remake is mostly notable for its incredible performances — Bruce Willis! Christopher Plummer! An Oscar nomination for Brad Pitt! Willis stars as James Cole, one of the pandemic’s survivors, who’s sent back to 1996 to track down the origins of virus. He overshoots and ends up in 1990, where he’s involuntarily committed to a mental institution. Pitt plays his fellow inmate who, Cole discovers back in the future, may or may not be responsible for the virus.

As far as time travel movies go, 12 Monkeys is firmly in the grim, twist-y, hard sci-fi camp. If that’s your thing, it’s an excellent watch.

All of the marketing around About Time made it seem like a fun, fluffy rom-com in which Domhnall Gleeson uses his magical time traveling abilities to woo Rachel McAdams. But master of the British rom-com, Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Knotting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral), makes About Time a lot deeper. I won’t spoil the twist that throws a wrench into the time travel mechanics, but I’ll just say that it’s more about the anxieties of parenthood than getting a fairy tale ending.

vengers: Endgame satisfyingly wraps up its core characters arcs and made room for the next chapter while also balancing humor, emotional weight, and huge choreographed set pieces. It also features a surprisingly well executed time travel storyline! If you haven’t seen this one since last summer, dive back into its mind-bending middle act.

The story of Marty McFly’s (Michael J. Fox) travels through time in a souped-up DeLorean, aided by his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), is a classic for good reason. The first movie, in which Marty has to make sure his parents fall in love lest he be erased from existence, is always a hit, but it’s especially fun to revisit Back to the Future Part II just to see what people in 1989 thought 2015 would look like.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was one of those movies that, if you grew up in the ’90s or early 2000s, you’d catch in bits and pieces because it aired constantly on cable. The format was perfect for that kind of disjointed viewing, since it mostly consists of silly scenes in which Bill and Ted get into historical hijinks strung together to form a tiny thread of narrative. But what Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure lacks in plot, it makes up for in heart. The core ethos of Bill and Ted is “Be excellent to each other,” a philosophy that the boys consistently embody. It’s just nice, okay?

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