Released: 12th February
Seen: 17th February
“It’s Groundhog Day, except…” is a fairly easy way of describing most movies that feature a time loop situation, it tells everyone exactly what to expect right off the bat. For example, Happy Death Day is “It’s Groundhog Day, except there’s a killer on the loose”. Well, when it comes to describing the charmingly simple The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, I’m gonna go with “It’s Groundhog Day, except with teenagers”… yes I did just copy my entire opening paragraph from my Palm Springs review, there aren’t many ways to open a review that has a Groundhog Day premise and this film is good but not so good that I feel the need to try hard to come up with a great opening.
The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, rather smartly, starts in the middle of a time loop that Mark (Kyle Allen) is going through. He’s clearly been at it long enough to perfect his routine, from being able to help people with directions before they ask for directions to being able to save a girl he likes from falling into a pool after she gets hit by a beach ball. On one of his many loops however, a new person turns up and catches the beach ball. This new person’s name is Margaret (Kathryn Newton) and she’s also going through a loop. They seem to be the only two people having this issue and so they decide to hang out more and enjoy the strangeness of their situation before eventually they have problems and try to figure out how to get out of this situation.
So… The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things is just a less funny Groundhog Day that doesn’t dare go as dark as that. The entire film just has this air of knowing that this concept has been done before and so it doesn’t need to try because the concept itself is usually a lot of fun. To be fair, the concept of a repeating day is so fun that it makes this film enjoyable enough but there’s nothing special here. It’s not as smart as Palm Springs, not as fun as Happy Death Day, doesn’t even have any truly memorable scenes. It exists as a good film that provides a good time while it’s being watched and then after you’re done you move on with very little to stick around in your head.
It’s hard to even say there’s a real plot to this thing, the titular Map of Tiny Perfect things is brought up and maybe makes up about 20-30 minutes of the film but it never really impacts the actual film. It’s not even a film about testing the limits of what one can do, we don’t get anything like the comical death montages that these films are known for. They aren’t doing that much other than going around and seeing these ‘perfect’ moments (which include things like an eagle pulling a fish out of the water, or a girl skateboarding really well). Indeed, one could say the film was somewhat boring… were it not for the talent of the leads.
The two lead actors have enough charm and talent to pull this off. Simple things like them casually walking down the street and effortlessly stopping people from getting pooped on by birds or stealing a giant truck ends up being surprisingly sweet and fun because the two of them know how to sell it. While The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things might not be amazing, it has a charm to it that makes it watchable. It’s not like it’ll be eternally remembered or even grab all of your attention but while it’s happening there’s a charm and sweetness to it that works.
Of course, there are times when The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things pushes a little more for the saccharine (there’s a reveal in act 3 that feels tacked on for cheap emotional points but is also spectacularly acted by Kathryn Newton) and I’d be hard-pressed to say that there are any truly memorable sequences. Some sequences SHOULD be memorable like an adorable date scene in a faux NASA research lab or a house smashing sequence (which, yes, is the furthest they push the “We can do anything” idea) and they’re kind of fun but… well, I’m writing this paragraph about them while the movie is still playing on my television and if you put a gun to my head and asked me to describe those two sequences in detail, I’d ask you to tell my family I loved them because that wouldn’t be possible.
The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things is fine. It’s just fine. It has great performances but never pushes them much beyond what would be acceptable in a B-list romance film from the 90s. It has cute scenes that never rise above cute. It has an ending that is kind of hilariously anticlimactic and I don’t know if it realises just how bad that ending is. It’s fine, it’s a film that can be watched and enjoyed and then moved on through, a film that will pass through your system like a hot knife through just about anything (Hot knives are powerful, they cut through more than just butter!). Watch it, don’t, who cares… it does have a dog named Chewbarka in it though, so that does help a considerable amount.