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Laramie Movie Scope:

Here we go again: sci-fi rom-dramedy knock off of Groundhog Day

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(1993, made-for-TV) Barry Thomas (Jonathan Silverman) is having a really lousy day. On Tuesday, April 27th, he wakes up late again, suffering from a hangover from the night before with his pal and officemate Howard Richter (Jeremy Piven), for his job in the personnel department at Utrel, a high-tech company, about which a news report on TV announces a scientific breakthrough of subatomic particles being accelerated to faster-than-light velocities. Some scientists express concern about the possibility of a circular time bounce resulting from the experiments, which theoretically could create a continuous loop in the universe, imprisoning everyone in an eternal day with memory reset every 24 hours.

In addition to his repeated tardiness and klutzy habit of breaking things (though he's environmentally conscientious and opposed to cigarettes but not to over-imbibing alcoholic beverages), his supervisor Anne Jackson (Robin Bartlett) is on his case for having accidentally erased from the database two personnel of the head of the department's staff. In his attempt in the cafeteria to impress the blonde and beautiful "ice queen," Dr Lisa Fredericks (Helen Slater), of the scientific team under Dr Thadius Moxley (Martin Landau), he makes a fool of himself. Then at the conclusion of the workday things get worse: he and Howie watch Dr Fredericks killed in a drive-by shooting.

Based on Richard Lupoff's short story, "12:01 PM," Philip Morton's teleplay from Jonathan Heap's TV story, is a here-we-go-again sci-fi rom-dramedy knock off of Groundhog Day, directed by Jack Sholder.

As Barry slumps onto his bed at midnight, he fumbles with the wires on a lamp just as lightning strikes his house. The shock somehow separates his consciousness from the bounce, making him immune to the memory erasure everyone experiences, but no one believes him that Tuesday is being repeated. "Okay," challenges Lisa, "prove it."

When he says to Howie, "If today was really today, I would have quit by now," as he had vowed the previous night when they were drinking together following the tragic murder scene, his uncomprehending buddy offers explanations of déjà vu or vertigo from stress.

Since Barry acts differently, not everything remains exactly as before. This time he's arrested as an accessory to the murder.

On the third consecutive Tuesday, Barry, now in love, wakes with determination: "Today I'll save her." Needing to impress upon her the significance of what he has to impart - "how wonderful theory is and how disappointing the physical world can be" - this time, using his recall of observations from before, he points out to Lisa little events just seconds in advance of their occurrence: "Do you believe in second chances?" How about third, fourth, fifth…?

(If you use your imagination - which neither Barry nor the filmmakers attempted - consider the possibilities and freedom of being the only person with memory intact while everyone else is trapped in a 24-hour time loop. You would never age or die; you could have risk-free adventures, experimenting with experiences you'd never before tried - though you might still have moral considerations to examine for your own conduct; you could take advantage of other people's predicted behaviors and the outcome of events, such as betting on a sure thing when you wanted money; you'd never have financial or other worries. Just the kind of concept necessary for a TV series.)

In addition to a lack of scientific credibility, a continuity problem occurs with Barry's attire: on days one and four he has on a white shirt but with a different tie; on days two and three he's wearing a blue shirt. Maybe in Lupoff's short story the recycling of the 24-hour period begins a minute after noon; if not, the title should have been "12:01 AM."

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

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