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‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’ adds a twist to a tired formula

By Mason Kupiainen Time-loop films aren’t anything new, with many films including Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, and Palm Springs taking new approaches to the formula. These stories have gotten pretty boring at this point since many other movies and episodes of television have taken a similar approach. However, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is able to take a new look into this overused formula.  The film follows Mark, a 17-year-old who struggles to figure out what to do after high school. When he finds himself stuck in a time-loop, he decides to take the opportunity to find himself a girlfriend and soon discovers a girl named Margaret stuck in the time-loop as well, and the two quickly form a bond.

Fresh takes

Image from New York Times
Palm Springs was one of 2020’s best films despite the overused time loop formula. The Map of Tiny Perfect Things takes a similar approach to Palm Springs by being a low-budget film that focuses on the character’s relationship, using the formula to spice up the story. However, this film focuses heavily on Mark’s character and turns the film into a coming of age story. With his character struggling to find his purpose, it brings an emotional aspect since many can relate to him. Margaret’s character is given an emotional storyline as well, which helps her not feel like a throw-away secondary character purposely thrown into the movie as a love interest for our lead.

Relatable messages

Image from Syfy Wire
Every great film usually has a moral message. Like mentioned before, our lead is struggling to figure out what his purpose in life is. He’s a gifted artist and has dreams of going to art school, but his parents keep pressuring him to change his ambitions. Even with these goals, he still struggles with knowing if this is right for him. The film is stuffed with inspirational quotes that sound like they just came out of a high school senior’s yearbook. This message is also related to the time-loop story by allowing our characters all the time in the world to reflect on their lives. It would seem like a dream come true to a high schooler to have time to stop and allow themselves to enjoy the best years of their lives, but the movie also brings up great reasons why this could also be a curse.

Coming of age done right

Image from Medium
Coming of age movies almost seem like something of the past. We don’t get many great films like these, with a few notable titles from recent years being The Edge of Seventeen and The Way, Way Back. This film does a great job at taking all the best aspects of the genre and adds the time-loop as an interesting twist. The characters in the film also act and talk like actual teenagers, rather than some old screenplay writer who hasn’t stepped foot inside a high school for 20 plus years. Their dialogue is quippy and well-written but still feels realistic. Their actions stay within the line of realism, feeling like natural reactions to this sort of situation. They do things that one wouldn’t do if the day wasn’t undone, and this helps stay in line with their angsty personalities.  Overall, the film has a happy, fun tone that keeps it fresh and entertaining. Although Palm Springs was a great film in its own rights, there was a sort of downer tone among the humor that gave it a somber feeling. On the other hand, this film keeps the uplifting tone throughout, while still having emotional scenes. It balances the two wonderfully to make a truly great teen movie. The ‘80s and ’90s were filled with great high school films that were fun and lighthearted while still incorporating great messages. Today, high school films feel too dark and sad. Doing it once in a while is fine, but when it’s a consistent stream, it gets pretty tiresome.
Sources: New York Times, Syfy Wire, Medium Featured Image: Medium