Review: Predictable 'The Map of Tiny Perfect Things' tries to reframe tired formula
Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video
Getting stuck on a loop and reliving the same day, or what I like to call the “Groundhog Day” sub-genre, is the foundation for Ian Samuels’ “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things,” which is basically the teenage equivalent to “Palm Springs.” Except “Perfect Things” doesn’t have the benefit of Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti’s infectious charm (or comedic timing), but it has Kathryn Newton and Kyle Allen doing the best with Lev Grossman formulaic screenplay that recycles countless time travel loopholes and throws “Edge of Tomorrow” references around because it’s woke enough to understand the joke.
In trying to reframe this tired formula, Samuels has enlisted Newton and Allen as two teenagers stuck living the same day endlessly. For Mark (Allen) that means having to avoid his dad (Josh Hamilton) who thinks applying to art school - despite his son’s wishes - is a waste of time. In-between, Mark traverses his small town trying to solve minor inconveniences: be it the person who can’t seem to read directions, or that unsuspecting fiance bro about to walk into bird shit. We don’t know the extent of Mark’s time in purgatory, nor does his life have meaning beyond tricking people into thinking he’s won the lottery, but that changes when Margaret (Newton) shows up and doesn't seem constrained by the metaphysical anomaly he’s trapped in.
The two are bonded by the situation (considering they’re the only ones who can remember what happened yesterday) and decide to construct a list regarding the perfect things in their lives and begin hashing out ways to break free from the cycle. Mark and Margaret are essentially one-note characters defined by ulterior motives, but Allen and Newton deserve credit for achieving balance. The screenplay briefly touches on topics of mortality and the dangers of dating the only person you’re stuck with, but those serious and often important subjects never make a significant impact to the overall story. Especially when you know that, judging by past films, there’s a handful of endgames that’ll play out, and “Perfect Things” doesn’t shy away from its predictable roots.
“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” is harmless in execution, and Allen and Newton both have sizable followings to make this Amazon streamer a sleeper hit. I’m sure the core demographic isn’t looking for anything beyond cheesy romance with a sci-fi twist, they also won’t be surprised to learn the replay value is minimal at best.
THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS debuts on Amazon Prime Friday, February 12th.