Some things aren’t meant to be full-length movies.
One good indicator that something isn’t meant to be a full-length movie is that it is adapted from a short story. This probably isn’t always the case, but we all feel a need to cling to certainty in the year of our Lord 2021 and this is mine.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is based on the short story by The Magicians author Lev Grossman, and it’s Amazon Studios’ latest foray into filmmaking,
Another rule of thumb I need to remember — while Amazon makes stellar television series, so far all of the movies I’ve reviewed for them have fallen emotionally flat (lookin’ at you, Late Night).
None of this is a knock on Lev Grossman and his writing for the source material. I love, love, love The Magicians. Grossman has a playful nihilism to his writing that reminds me of a darker Terry Pratchett. It’s surprising and delightful. This movie had none of the magic of Grossman’s writing. It. Was. So. Incredibly. Boring.
Very rarely do I wish that I could get my time back after watching a movie because it was so monotonous, but this one did the trick! The only thing that made it worse was that by repeating the time loops, it’s almost like I watched this over and over again.
The problem isn’t so much that the movie was bad, just that it was so terribly bland.
The story follows two teenagers who are stuck repeating the same day of their lives over and over again. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.) Instead of dipping their toes into the existential dread of it all (a la Palm Springs or Groundhog Day), the teens decide to map out all the tiny, perfect moments they would otherwise miss if they weren’t stuck in a repeating time loop.
It’s a cute concept — for a short story. The keyword there being “short.” There simply wasn’t enough action or plot to sustain a whole hour forty minutes of the repetition. Tiny Perfect Things doesn’t tread this well-worn path in a new or fresh way.
The characters don’t get that deep philosophically, they aren’t that funny, and they don’t have particularly interesting motivations — we primarily follow Mark (Kyle Allen) who just wants to get a girlfriend and his fascination with a mysterious manic pixie dream girl, Margaret (Kathryn Newton). The girl’s story is a bit heavier, but its exploration is mostly slap-dash in the last few minutes of the film.
If you’re looking for a funny, interesting, hella dark take on time loops, go watch Palm Springs. Or get your heart-wrenching time mishaps from The Magicians. They’re both hilarious and they won’t make you wish for almost two hours of your life back.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things streams on Amazon Prime Video this Friday, February 12, 2021!