‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ – Short on Originality, Long (Enough) on Fun
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
For reasons beyond his comprehension, a man finds himself in a time loop where he relives the same day over and over.
‘Groundhog Day,’ right?
Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
For reasons beyond his comprehension, a man finds himself in a never-ending loop where he relives the same day over and over … but this time there’s a woman there experiencing the same unexplained phenomenon.
If you answered ‘Palm Springs’ to this one, you’re correct.
If, however, you answered ‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ for the second one, you’d also be correct.
Kyle Allen as Mark and Kathryn Newton as Margaret in ‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.’ (© Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios)
‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ starts off by following teenage boy Mark (Kyle Allen) as he navigates the same day an indeterminate amount of times – bickering with his younger sister, laughing off his father’s invitation to join him at his sister’s soccer game, video games with the bestie, arguing with Dad about his future, repeatedly attempting (and failing) to woo a young woman at the local swimming pool.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Until one day when the unexpected happens – Margaret (Kathryn Newton) appears on the scene and adds some variety to Mark’s repetitive life. He seeks out the mystery girl to see if she is also aware of the loop or if she’s as oblivious to it as the rest of the world.
Spoiler alert: she knows.
The two begin spending their days together, experiencing life without restrictions, sharing theories about why things are the way they are, and showing each other the little day-to-day moments they discovered in the time before they met.
Eventually they set out to chart out all of those “tiny perfect moments.” On a map. To see if it helps them, and the rest of the world, move on from the never-ending day.
Kyle Allen as Mark and Kathryn Newton as Margaret in ‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.’ (© Dan Anderson. Courtesy of Amazon Studios.)
OK, the most glaring thing that ‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ lacks is originality. Or lack thereof. We’ve seen this story before, and pretty recently since ‘Palm Springs’ came out last July. There are only so many ways to tell this story in a unique way, and the tactics our protagonists employ in trying to escape the loop is far from unique.
The second troublesome thing I noticed is how calm both Margaret and Mark seem to be with their predicament. They seem to view as more of a minor annoyance than something more serious.
One time in college I got super drunk and hit the wrong button on my CD player (kids, ask your parents what that is) and Jimmy Buffet’s ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ played on a loop for 8+ hours. To this day, some 20 years later, inadvertently (and loudly) unleash a stream of profanity when that song is played. So, excuse me if I find it hard to believe that having the same conversations and doing the same boring things every day forever wouldn’t drive a person crazy.
But even taking those two things into account, ‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ is actually quite palatable.
You’ve got characters you can genuinely root for, especially when the “why” of the loop is revealed. And what the story lacks in originality it makes up for with reasonably wholesome fun – think of it as if a high school drama department put on an edited version of the much raunchier ‘Palm Springs.’
Overall, ‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ isn’t as good as it could’ve been had it ventured off the well-worn path it travels, but it also isn’t as bad it could have been by sticking to the well-worn path it travels.
★★★ of ★★★★★