Lost And Found 19: What Time Is It?
Welcome back. I am sure many of you enjoyed your time with Putney Swope in our last chapter and his radical yet interesting ways of running an advertisement company. This week we shall look into the fun exciting world of time travel, even though if one stops and thinks about any plot that involves time travel plot holes can be found easily. Yet it is something that is explored in film time and time again as it can open up so many different ideas and gives inspirational hope that we can alter the future or past to how we see fit. Even more interesting is when a film dealing with time travel does not have an astronomical budget and therefore cannot rely on special effects to expand the scale of the film but rather come up with fresh ideas to drive the film forward. TV film 12:01 just does just that, and what it may lack in style and big names it makes up for it in the tension and idea department. Also it boasts a cool cast and it is directed by Jack Sholder the man behind the horror sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and Sci-Fi eighties horror cult classic The Hidden.
Cast: Jonathan Silverman, Helen Slater, Martin Landau, Jeremy Piven and Robin Bartlett
Director: Jack Sholder
Writers: Richard Lupoff, Jonathan Heap, Philip Morton
Luckily 12:01 has more going for it than most low-budget Sci-Fi TV films. The cast some may recognise from previous films such as veteran favourite Martin Landau, Jonathan Silverman as one of the leads in Weekend at Bernie’s, Helen Slater most known for her role as Supergirl and Jeremy Piven a.k.a. Ari Gold in the hit TV series Entourage. Quite a nice mixture of nineties movie stars and more experienced actors really. The film is an adaptation of a short story by the same name written by Richard Lupoff which was successfully made into a thirty minute short film in 1990. The film was so well received; it was decided to make this longer ninety minute TV version.
Barry Thomas (Jonathan Silverman) is a bored office worker that would rather be at the bar ordering shots than sitting at his desk trying to avoid doing any form of work at all costs. One day he gets up, his the snooze button on his radio alarm clock, brushes his teeth, has breakfast, stops his neighbour’s son from getting hit by a car while playing basketball, late to work and berated by his uptight boss Anne Jackson (Robin Barlett) just like any other morning. He is very attracted to a fellow co-worker Lisa Fredericks (Helen Slater), but never has the courage to talk or even make eye contact with her, something his best friend Howard Richter (Jeremy Piven) loves to bring up at any given moment. After work that very same day he sees Lisa murdered outside the office building. He decides to go to the bar and drink heavily to deal with the shock. While at home asleep he receives an electrical shock at 12:01. The next day however the events of the previous day are repeated and Barry is the only one aware of this and must find a way to prevent the murder of Lisa and figure out what is causing this time loop or be stuck in it forever.
Although 12:01 may have a plot that sounds like repetition could be one of its downfalls with most scenes consisting of what we have already seen and therefore know what will happen next, it is directed with a good eye by director Sholder and still has an element of surprise armed with strong twists that keeps the pacing going at a steady rate and a reliable cast to elevate the material above average TV film expectations. The films not only satisfies the average Sci-Fi fan but also possesses a subtle dark sense of humour and never takes its self too seriously and quite aware of treading the thin line between believable and absolute nonsense. For example, the narrative is quite straight forward for the most part but luckily keeps the audience guessing in each scene and looking forward to what Barry will do next to change the chain of events and hopefully get himself out of reliving such a tragic yet boring day at work. Nothing is scarier than knowing that he may spend infinity in a time loop which consists of mainly being at work in front of a desk at his banal office job. Basically this is the worst day ever to be trapped in a time loop. Some of the best scenes are when Barry, now knowledgeable of who will say what to him at work, just simply tells people to shut up or silences them with a speech with how predictable and boring they are.
Director Sholder and writers Heap, Lupoff and Morton know how to trick the audience too and tend to use different narrative devices when the audience thinks they know what is going to happen but then turn the situation on its head, which ultimately changes the events of the day to situations that one would find it hard to predict. For instance when Barry starts to list the significant things in the day in order to figure out what is going on and not waste any time he is regularly arrested, fired or just ignored by his fellow colleagues and friends for sounding insane and declared as hungover even by his best friend Howard. This makes the audience root for Barry even more as we see him getting closer and closer to the truth. This also creates a typical but effective romantic storyline in the film as he gets to know Lisa better and the two fall in love with one another again and again.
12:01 definitely belongs in the ‘found’ heap as the filmmakers consistently attempt to reinvent each familiar scene, go along with the fun and take the audience along with them. One would not mind reliving the experience of watching this over and over again.