A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Life is worth living, even it means we're moving closer to its end. Teens worry about their own futures as well as larger issues like climate change. We have to face losing our loved ones, or we risk losing ourselves too. It's important to think about others and try to understand what motivates them, rather than just judging them.
Positive Role Models
Mark valiantly faces being stuck in time; he does good deeds but also eventually sees what he's missing out on. Margaret doesn't want their endless day to end because she's avoiding what she knows will happen the next day. Both demonstrate perseverance in making the most of their repeated day and searching for meaning in it. Mark is inspired to make a map of all the perfect things that happen in the day. He learns to think of others. Margaret bravely faces letting go of a loved one. Girls excel at math, science, sports. No racial diversity within primary cast.
Violence & Scariness
Margaret is learning to drive and crashes into things regularly. Mark dives off the roof of his house, knowing nothing will happen to him. The two trash a show house just for fun, knowing it will all go back to normal the next day. Mark falls off a skateboard and is taken to the hospital, where he gets a cast on his wrist. A parent is dying of cancer.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens kiss. Teen boys talk about kissing girls and having a girlfriend, and one mentions getting "laid."
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"S--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "suck," "loser," "stupid," "crap," "laid."
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Products & Purchases
Lots of shows and movies referenced, including Groundhog Day, Time Bandits, Dr. Who, Edge of Tomorrow, Pokémon, Sherlock, and Star Wars. Brands seen for longer than a glimpse include Cheerios, Rubik's Cube, Doritos, NASA, Tesla, and Jack & Jones.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens occasionally drink alcohol in apparent moderation.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (based on a short story by Lev Grossman) takes on the now familiar idea of being stuck in time as the basis for a story about two teens falling in love. The bond that Mark (Kyle Allen) and Margaret (Kathryn Newton) share by being trapped in a time loop nurtures the development of a friendship and eventually deeper feelings. They eventually kiss, and a male friend talks about getting "laid," but there's nothing more graphic in the film. In fact, Mark and Margaret come across as quite innocent and comfortable self-identifying as "nerds," though they do drink a couple of beers in one scene, and she seems to have alcohol around in others. They model perseverance in trying to find meaning in their repeated day, and they learn the joys of being unselfish in loving others, especially their family members. Language includes "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "suck," "loser," "stupid," and "crap." Mark dives off the roof of his house, knowing nothing will happen to him, and he and Margaret trash a show house just for fun, knowing it will all go back to normal the next day. A parent is dying of cancer. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This likable stuck-in-time tale is a young adult Groundhog Day with, perhaps appropriately for its target audience and generation, more soul-searching and fewer laughs. As with other material that has taken on the idea of time standing still (see Palm Springs), the narrative construction of The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is the key to keeping the film from feeling too repetitive. Map does a solid job of avoiding lulls and predictability by unveiling new pieces of information and even alterations to the day along the way. The time anomaly is a pretense for the romance between Mark and Margaret, much like in Groundhog Day, only this time, as in Palm Springs, both characters are stuck in time, and each has something to learn as a part of growing up. The two stars are charming enough to keep the film watchable.
The film has a subtext about what it means to be 17, that in-between place straddling childhood and adulthood. In our youth-obsessed culture, getting frozen at 17 could sound attractive. Mark and Margaret have an ongoing argument over whether they're missing out or whether everyone else is, arguments cutely set in a couple of scenes to the pair playing out relived actions with synchronized/choreographed exactitude or "seize the day" abandon. But they eventually figure out that everything adulthood entails -- even growing old, suffering loss, and more -- is what adds up to a life. Each day is one less day left to live, sure, but also one more day lived, full of experiences, human connections, and moments -- sometimes perfect.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.