“My soulmate is out there somewhere, pushing a pull door… I just know it.” – unknown
I’m starting to think that maybe I’m finally living my teen years that I hid from for so long. Only this time I’m in my thirties and I’m experiencing it vicariously through self-discovery teen films like It’s Kind of a Funny Story, The Spectacular Now, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and of course The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. If you look at it that way, I’ve been to so many proms at this point it’s a surprise I haven’t been selected as prom king. It’s always the jocks that get it, let’s be honest.
What works about Perfect Things (The Map of Tiny Perfect Things) is its emulation and admiration rather than ripping off of previous comedically themed time travel films. In fact on numerous occasions the characters reference the classics that came before it (Groundhog Day, I’m looking at you). Much the same as most time travel stories, this one too basically asks you just to go along with it. If you look too closely, if you over analyze its nonsensical “science” then it might sully the experience it’s trying to offer.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is about Mark, stuck in a small town, stuck in a time oriented prison that begins and ends within a 16 hour time period. A tale as old as time. In Mark’s case that tale is repetitive as hell. That is until he meets Margaret, another soul trapped (freed?) within this small town unaware of similarly afflicted people possibly running around. When they discover one another they decide the only logical step is to find the perfection of what “today” has to offer. As expected, with more time spent together a romance begins to hover but so too does a mystery being withheld by one of them. This as of yet to be revealed secret could not only change their relationship it could alter their very understanding of reality itself.
What I believe has allowed Groundhog Day to stand the test of time, aside from the genius of Bill Murray of course, is its balance of comedy and drama. Definitely leaning more into the comedy of time travel, it never loses focus of teaching its characters lessons of morality and the overall betterment of those around them. With Perfect Things its goal is to arrive at a similar destination while taking a bit of a different route to get there. Perfect Things is more concerned with self-introspection and finding the beauty of something once believed to be a burden. It’s a metaphorical journey to search for one’s soul. But at the end of the day (pun?) the character’s ultimate goal is to break the barrier between today and tomorrow and if time or some time wielding species has any say they will only do so having learned what it truly means to be alive, to genuinely appreciate the time given and forgive that mistakes of the past.
What can be seen as overly sentimental, this kind of film is only as good as you allow it to be. For the cynical this might be one to skip but for those frequently in their head, dwelling in their feelings, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things can feel like it understands exactly what you’re going through. Maybe that’s why I can still relate to the story and its characters despite their youth and naivety. I can see the merit of finding the happiness within myself if I am ever to find it in the embrace of another hopeless human being.
Despite its similarities to previous films such as fellow time travel adventures Groundhog Day and Back to the Future, and teen dramas The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things still manages to carve out its own identity. In large part due to strong chemistry between the leads, they navigate a small but imaginative journey both into the universe and deep within their souls contemplating their very existence. If you enjoyed any of the movies I listed throughout this little review of mine, I highly recommend giving this new entry to the genre a chance, maybe with the one person you would want to be stuck in time with? I’ll leave that part up to you.
Rated PG-13 For: brief strong language, some teen drinking and sexual references
Runtime: 98 minutes
Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Comedy
Starring: Kathryn Newton, Kyle Allen, Jermaine Harris, Josh Hamilton
Directed By: Ian Samuels
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 8/ Acting: 8/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 7.5
OVERALL: 8 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes. Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Check out the trailer below:
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