The Map of Tiny Perfect Things  ‘Prime Video’ Review: A Brilliant Reinvention of the Time-loop Film
Let’s face it: the time-loop sub-genre contains a highly tired formula. Most films of that stature follow the same structure, where we observe our protagonist in “normal-time” before an unforeseen event makes them stuck in a time-loop. At first, they have no idea how to react to their new predicament until they have fun with the concept and realize why they are stuck in time to “fix” their past mistakes. None of that is found in Amazon’s latest original film, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, as it begins smack-bang in the middle of Mark’s (Kyle Allen)’s journey inside the time-loop, knowing every repetitive pattern of the day he is stuck in. However, everything changes when he meets Margaret (Kathryn Newton), who is also stuck inside the time-loop. They become friends and decide to create a map of the “perfect things” they find inside the loop. The result is a refreshingly brisk re-appropriation of a tired sub-genre containing stellar performances and immaculate cinematography.
Right from its opening scene, the movie grips you immediately with its sweeping, detailed camerawork that perfectly juxtaposes Kyle Allen’s dynamic movements of control over time. He has already gotten used to living the same day over and over again. The audience doesn’t need any explanation that “caused” the time-loop; it just happened. Who cares what caused it? What matters for the audience (and the script) is that he is in it and knows every detail there is to know about the loop. Yes, Mark has clichéd conversations with his best friend Henry (Jermaine Harris), but they make for fun bits of comedy. One of the biggest flaws of the time-loop film is its over-reliance on exposition and initial set-up that “caused” the loop.
Related to The Map of Tiny Perfect Things – I’m Your Woman (2020) ‘Prime Video’ Review: A Solid Thriller with the Perfect Female Gaze
This time around, exposition and initial situations are thrown out of the window for the formula to reinvent itself. Most time-loop films contain the same plot, except for the initial story and different characters, but follow the same 3-act structure and borrow tropes from one another. This is why a film like Happy Death Day (and its sequel Happy Death Day 2U) failed miserably with the concept of “Groundhog Day but horror.” Not every time-loop movie needs to follow the same structure and tropes as Harold Ramis’ 1993 comedy. Groundhog Day is a genius film but heavily commercialized the time-loop genre until it became a quick cash-grab fad. Director Ian Samuels is smarter than most filmmakers who directly borrowed from Groundhog Day and creates a highly inventive comedy that never reverts to predictability…until the final 20 minutes.
The film’s finale borrows every trope from the time-loop film’s third act when Mark and Margaret realize what they must break the singularity, which requires personal and moral challenges. Thankfully, the clichés aren’t as aggressive as some other time-loop films are (Happy Death Day or even Doug Liman’s highly overrated Edge of Tomorrow) due to its incredible humanity brought by Kyle Allen and Kathryn Newton’s performances. Their charm and infectious chemistry carry most of the entire runtime, mainly due to their terrific acting skills, but also because Lev Grossman’s script is sharp, witty, and feels incredibly timely by its representation of Generation Z’s challenges. Newton’s performance is particularly heartbreaking, as she is hiding a “secret” (that you can easily predict if you pay close attention) to Mark and her final conversation with him before the loop breaks is terrific. She will be one to watch as her career grows to new horizons, particularly in next year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Also, Read – 10 Best Time Travel Movies Ever Made
If you’re looking for a film that rejects the familiarity of the time-loop film, even if its final sequences contain high amounts of predictability, with incredibly dynamic lead performances and sweeping cinematography, look no further. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things might look like a highly formulaic rom-com but continuously finds new ways to reinvent itself by [almost] never kowtowing to familiar tropes from other time-loop rom coms (particularly Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day). If you’re curious enough and look for originality in Hollywood, stream this movie immediately on Amazon Prime. You might find great value in it.