By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
The idea of making another time loop movie actually is rather amusing if one were to think about it. In a time loop plot, a character or characters often repeat a day or a certain chain of events, sometimes with different outcomes, only to start over again. The end desire is to experience the day or certain period of time correctly or flawlessly to get better results. To make another time loop movie also seems redundant, given that it has been done before multiple times, but the goal is to set one’s story or movie apart from others that have preceded it. In the case of The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, writer Lev Grossman, who based the screenplay on his short story, and director Ian Samuels hope to bring something different to the subgenre, but end of treading upon thematic territory that is all too familiar. At the same time, the filmmakers do end up bringing a slightly more serious and poignant element that does manage to tug on some heart strings.
Kyle Allen stars as Mark, a young high school student who has been caught in a temporal anomaly/time loop that has him repeating one particular day for no apparent reason. As the film begins, Mark has already experienced this particular day so many times that he already knows what to expect. Things change majorly when he discovers that he isn’t the only one aware of the this metaphysical phenomenon. A young lady named Margaret (Kathryn Newton) is also repeating the same day and the two decide to team up to get through this bizarre situation as best as they can.
Both Mark and Margaret discover that during the course of this remarkable day, there are many simple, but beautiful pleasures and experiences to behold. The two document these events in a little map of their town. Though these magical moments seem rather extraneous at first, they discover that the map and these patterns of remarkable events may hold to key to their escape from the anomaly.
Much like other movies that utilize this plot device, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things mostly uses the time loop phenomenon for comedic purposes. This works mostly well, but also loses its steam a little when things get a little redundant. On the other hand, a subplot (which I won’t spoil) makes the film much more emotional and heartfelt than most other time loop movies. That said, the end result is a charming and sweet film that celebrates the many facets of life and reminds us to treasure the things we often take for granted.
Director Ian Samuels, cinematographer Andrew Wehde, and editor Andrea Bottigliero give the film a pace and flow that glides almost effortlessly in the beginning as the character Mark rushes through his day to get to the things he likes and desires the most. However, they start to slow things down beautifully to behold, admire and experience the beauty and magic that life often has to offer. The filmmakers show superb proficiency in presenting this otherwise familiar story and the actors also follow suit by committing heart and soul to their characters.
Both Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton perform well in their respective roles, but seem to lack a genuine chemistry which holds the film back from making its full, intended impact. Still, they both earnestly bring much heart and longing to their characters, so that positive aspect helps alleviate any lack of romantic chemistry between them. Josh Hamilton also performs well as Mark’s loving, but awkward father Daniel. Jorja Fox also has a brief, but impactful turn as Margaret’s mother Greta.
So as far as time loop movies go, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things isn’t exactly perfect, but it definitely is not horrible. It is an amiable and amusing movie that has a little magic of its own, but never quite reaches the heights of cinematic beauty as Groundhog Day or the level of hillarity as Palm Springs. The movie will be available for streaming via Amazon Prime on February 12. It gets a moderate recommendation from me.