The time-travel plot devise is a concept worth repeating
Brian Welk | July 8, 2020 @ 1: 05 PM
Last Updated: July 8, 2020 @ 1: 11 PM
You know a movie is special when people describe it as “Groundhog Day” crossed with… something you’d never expect. Here are a handful of films that were inspired by or informed a similar time loop story as the Bill Murray rom-com classic
“12: 01” (1993)
The short story on which “12: 01” is based actually pre-dates “Groundhog Day” by nearly 20 years. It’s about a man caught reliving the worst day of his life when his wife is shot and killed. After receiving an electrical shock at midnight, he relives the previous day and finds that things get worse.
“Run Lola Run” (1998)
Tom Tykwer’s action classic takes the time looping premise and turns it into a kinetic, real-time thrill ride. The title character Lola goes on a 20-minute dash as repeated several times, with each time depicting slight changes in the story that invoke ideas about parallel realities and moral choice.
“50 First Dates” (2004)
Leave it to Adam Sandler to make another rom-com aping a “Groundhog Day” premise. In this one, Drew Barrymore only thinks she’s living the same day over and over because she has an affliction in which she can’t remember the previous day, but it doesn’t stop Sandler from trying to win her over. Short-term memory loss is a real thing, but not Barrymore’s specific affliction.
One of the more creative indie time travel stories you’re likely to see, Shane Carruth’s lo-fi thriller is a densely plotted science fiction story about two entrepreneurial inventors who accidentally invent a device that allows them to travel back in time for a few hours at a time. Carruth keeps us in the dark as to what they’ve actually invented until well into the film, and it maintains its tension as it evolves into a character study of these two men trying to double cross the other.
“Source Code” (2011)
Jake Gyllenhaal wakes up in someone else’s body eight minutes before a terrorist attack blows up the train he’s riding on. It’s his job to use that time to find the terrorist and stop the attack. The movie’s first eight minutes are its best when he realizes that he’s living someone else’s final moments. Director Duncan Jones uses the sci-fi set up as a parable for the frustration of being used as a tool and the nature of free will within each alternate reality.
“Edge of Tomorrow” a.k.a. “Live. Die. Repeat.” (2014)
This is one of Tom Cruise’s most underrated roles. We watch him die on an endless loop as he tries to learn how to win in a war against aliens, with each of his lives playing out like a video game in which he gains experience and gets closer to winning. But its charm comes from a sardonic sense of humor and Cruise’s relationship with a hard-nosed soldier played by Emily Blunt. In the end, she ends up killing him in training more times than the aliens do.
It’s “Groundhog Day” with no clothes! Phil Connors at least didn’t have to relive the same humiliation Marlon Wayans does, where he wakes up naked hours before his wedding day and has to repeat things over and over until he gets things right. The film is actually a remake of a Swedish film from 2000.
“Before I Fall” (2017)
What if “Groundhog Day” was about a mean girl? Zoey Deutch stars as a San Francisco teen with a “perfect” high school life until she’s killed in a car accident. When she repeats the same day of her death, she starts to reassess her relationships and unravel the mystery around her accident.
“Happy Death Day” (2017) and “Happy Death Day 2U” (2019)
“Happy Death Day” is a horror movie about a woman played by Jessica Rothe who has to relive a murder at the hands of a killer in a baby face mask until she can outsmart him and survive. And following the success of that film, the sequel, “Happy Death Day 2U,” winks at that premise by having Rothe’s character dying all over again…again. And this time, both her and her friends are caught in this vicious death loop.
“See You Yesterday” (2019)
Stefon Bristol’s time-travel Netflix drama, produced by Spike Lee, features two high-school science geniuses (Eden Duncan-Smith and Dante Crichlow) who keep traveling back to the same day when their first trip back in time ends in tragedy. It combines critiques of racial profiling and over-policing with light moments, including a cameo from “Back to the Future” star Michael J. Fox.
“The Obituary of Tunde Johnson” (2019)
This drama played at TIFF and tells the story of a black, gay teenager who is killed in an unprovoked incident of police brutality, only to wake up on the same morning and relive the day of his death.
“Palm Springs” (2020)
This film starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti sold for a record $17.5 million (and change) to Neon and Hulu when it premiered at Sundance. The film stars Milioti as a woman dreading attending a wedding and being drawn to Samberg, only to wake up each morning having to relive the awkward events of the day all over again.