One of the most refreshing movies of 2020 was Palm Springs, a cynical romantic comedy that twisted the Groundhog’s Day formula of being stuck in the same day over and over. But the time loop idea has been making its rounds a lot recently too, between the action epic Edge of Tomorrow or the horror comedy Happy Death Day. Somehow we’ve yet to completely get déja vu thanks to each movie taking the premise from a fresh angle. Amazingly enough, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things doesn’t break the cycle. Director Ian Samuel’s movie coming to Amazon Prime is another sharp take on temporal anomalies.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things follows a teenager named Mark (Kyle Allen) living in an endless season of the same day– and he has it all memorized by heart. Right away, the movie whisks one away with its apt filmmaking tricks that has the protagonist interacting with every small detail occurring in his hometown in an impressive single shot, not unlike a choreographed dance. Until he notices something different happen during his own personal time loop. He discovers a stranger to him: Kathryn Newton’s Margaret is dealing with the same odd circumstance that he is.
The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things is self aware of its familiar concept and cleverly builds on it.
Something new about The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ take on the time loop scenario is its main characters are well aware of movies like Groundhog’s Day and Edge of Tomorrow. By letting us know that the movie is up to speed on what we’ve likely already seen from those like it (not only about time loops, by time travel), it cannot repeat the same beats as easily without keeping itself accountable. There’s a fun and wacky texture to the script that is full of movie references to everything from Taxi Driver to X-Men that is grabbing to see play out along with the script overall being quick on its feet.
Given its marketing, it’s easy to come into The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things thinking its a cheesy teen rom-com selling that its “not about the time you have, but who you spend it with” wall quote (which is fine and ok). But the feature is much more a coming-of-age film touching on ideas that far outstretch being a teenager. There’s a timelessness about its story that will be welcome to revisit a few years from now and fans will get just as much or even more out of it. There’s a quietness and earnestness about it that surprises amidst the fun high-concept aspects of getting to push reset everyday.
It’s hard to look away from Kyle Allen And Kathryn Newton’s offbeat chemistry.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things works in a lot of ways thanks to getting the casting its two leads. Kyle Allen, who hasn't played a leading role before this, really anchors the movie with a kind of a shy, puppy-dog approach to Kathryn Newton’s character, who is slick, cool and armed with a love and interest in the situation in which they’ve found themselves. It’s fun to goof around with Mark and hiss hijinks as a loner time-looper, but as partners, the two really balance each other out and spark a quite interesting dialogue about trying to move forward or being one with the present.
The movie could easily fall into a slippery and toxic slope of trying to be an endearing love story by default just because their characters are the only humans around aware that time is on a hamster wheel. But The Map of Tiny Perfect Things challenges this in a clear-headed and grounded way that brings something different to movies of the same family.
The coming-of-age movie has a sweet and heartwarming message along with plenty of spunk.
Above the time loops and coming-of-age-of-it-all that is The Map of Tiny Perfect Little Things, it’s a movie that finely executes its themes about paying attention to the small, seemingly inconsequential moments in a day. It has its note of existentialism, but it keeps a nice pep in its step that makes a movie like this enjoyable throughout. It may even fine tune the lens you view your day once you watch it, or you’ll catch yourself thinking about one of Margaret’s head-scratching philosophies or facts. There’s a full universe playing out around us within every single day we live, and the fine execution of that perspective makes it worth a watch on its own.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is not a groundbreaking concept, but it is a witty and entertaining time loop movie that finds its own ideas to say about being lost in time. It’s stylish, a little odd while also being a sincere and rare inspirational bit of YA goodness.
Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.
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