I feel like I’ve seen this movie over and over again.
Mark (Kyle Allen) is stuck in a Groundhog Day Loop that’s 16 hours long and has been there for long enough that he can roughly predict the events of the morning: His sister, Emma (Cleo Fraser), will call him a loser, his father (Josh Hamilton) will do a crossword puzzle, his friend Henry (Jermaine Harris) will lose at a video game, and a girl named Phoebe (Anna Mikami) will need directions. After being stuck for a while, Mark asks Henry for advice. Henry suggests that, like in Groundhog Day, Mark needs to get a girlfriend. While trying to find a loop that makes Phoebe fall for him, Mark is interrupted by Margaret (Kathryn Newton), a girl who is also stuck in the same loop. Together, the pair come up with an idea to escape the loop: Find all of the tiny, perfect moments that life has to offer.
I think I would have liked this movie more if I hadn’t seen Palm Springs last year. This movie is somewhat original in its use of the trope, but it just gets completely overshadowed by the darker and better-written version. While the characters are implied to have been in the loop for a while, they have not yet hit the nihilist period that often defines all of the films with this premise. As such, this film doesn’t ever feel like it explores its characters as fully as other movies using this trope. We also don’t really get any idea of how long the characters have been in the loop, but it feels much shorter than most other films like this. Hence, we don’t get the same feeling of character growth that we usually would.
The two leads both do a great job of conveying their confusion, mixed with excitement and worry, about their situation. They’re at a vulnerable time in their lives so they don’t immediately treat the time loop as an opportunity to do insanely dangerous or adventurous things like many people in such films. When they meet, they were both completely unaware of each other and the only thing they have in common is the situation. Their relationship feels natural even though they don’t have the kind of chemistry that makes us feel like they instantly connect. Even when it seems like they’re getting along, they never have the kind of passion we expect from these films. Instead, it’s a growing friendship that doesn’t necessarily feel like it needs to become romantic and that’s refreshing to me.
The thing that bothers me most about the film, though, is that they propose that finding all of these nebulous “perfect” moments might end the loop. They then spend the rest of the movie trying to somehow scientifically justify this solution. It’s kind of ridiculous and, while I do understand that it adds a little meaning to the film, I also just couldn’t quite get over it.
Overall, though, it’s a pretty good movie. Just not Palm Springs good.
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