Movie review: 'Map' cheerfully suggests that we should all live life to the fullest – Austin American-Statesman

I started watching this movie – reluctantly, because someone told me it was about people caught in a time loop, a genre that has worn out its welcome for me. And right there, in the first few minutes, it was as if I was caught in my own time loop, of seeing exactly this sort of film again and again. The protagonist is Mark (Kyle Allen), who always seems to know where he is and what to do. He points to a toaster a millisecond before the bread pops up. If something’s falling, he’ll catch it. He flits in and out of traffic on his bike without any worries of being hit. He blesses people just before they sneeze.
It’s because he’s been there – to experience all of this – many times before. I haven’t seen the time-loop-themed “Palm Springs,” but I’ve had many viewing of “Groundhog Day” and “Edge of Tomorrow” and myriad episodes of “Doctor Who.” So, when Mark sits on the floor and reads the time travel novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” then visits his pal Henry (Jermaine Harris) and wonders aloud what it would be like to live the same day over and over again, my eyes went rolling upward.
But a moment later, I was seeing normal again. Henry says to him, “Wasn’t that a Bill Murray movie?” Mark replies, “‘Groundhog Day’.” I started thinking, “Hmmm, maybe this movie is going to be hip.”
To a degree, it is. Before it’s over, it’s been funny and serious and sweet; the premise has shot out into multiple directions; and mentions have been made of “Edge of Tomorrow,” of the “Doctor Who” episode in which David Tennant said, “Time is … like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff,” and of “Time Bandits.”
Mark is stuck in a time loop. He’s living the same day over and over, and visiting Henry – who is not stuck – is part of it. Every night, as Mark’s watch hits 12, he falls asleep, and the day is rebooted. Every morning he wakes up and does it all again. Part of his routine is going to a swimming pool, where every day he saves a young woman from falling into the water and starts to get to know her.
Need a break? Play the USA TODAY Daily Crossword Puzzle.
But one day, another young woman, Margaret (Kathryn Newton), gets in the way of his “rescue,” then walks off. Who is this person? And before you can say, “Sherman, set the WABAC,” Mark is on a quest to find out. When they finally meet, he asks, “Are you experiencing any kind of temporal anomaly in your life?” She replies, coyly, “You mean the thing where the same day keeps happening?”
Up to this point, all these two have in common is they’re good looking and they wear their baseball caps backward. Soon they’re chatting. He has a lot to say, she, not much. A friendship develops. He wants to make her laugh. She’s got something bothering her. But there’s some chemistry, and they each start showing the other little moments that they’ve enjoyed repeating.
The two characters and the two actors playing them are really good together. He’s got a goofy side. She thinks out loud, “I’m glad Stephen Hawking isn’t here to see this because it violates all known science.”
The script offers up dreams of what they might do if they weren’t dealing with broken time. She would be an aerospace engineer; he would cure cancer. Then it adds a bit of mystery when her cell phone keeps ringing, and the call is coming from someone named Jared, and she keeps it a mystery.
It all leads up to the film’s title, with Mark and Margaret deciding to look for all the “tiny perfect things” happening in the world every day that people just don’t notice. It’s Mark, who is falling for her, although she shows no romantic interest in him, who comes up with the idea of plotting them on a map (a “Time Bandits” reference!) to see if any sort of pattern emerges.
Then there are those movie mood swings. Things take a solemn turn, epiphanies are reached, explanations are presented, things get buoyant. For a brief moment, the film becomes terribly sad, but it goes out on a hopeful and happy note.
“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” premiers on Amazon Prime on Feb. 12.
Ed Symkus can be reached at
“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things”
Written by Lev Grossman; directed by Ian Samuels
With Kyle Allen, Kathryn Newton, Jermaine Harris, Josh Hamilton
Rated PG-13


Leave a Comment