12:01 (1993)

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12:01 (1993)

Post  BoG on Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:22 pm

12:01 starring JONATHAN SILVERMAN Like a Star @ heaven HELEN SLATER Like a Star @ heaven JEREMY PIVEN and MARTIN LANDAU Like a Star @ heaven Directed by JACK SHOLDER
This entertaining sci-fi comedy-drama was an expanded version / adaptation of the short story by Richard Lupoff; an earlier (and much more downbeat) short film version had aired on the Showtime channel 3 years earlier. This latest version expands the premise to the repetition of an entire day, a 24-hour period (like the comedy-fantasy Groundhog Day, which was released theatrically the same year), from the earlier concept of just one hour repeating. This film originally aired on the Fox channel in 1993; a DVD was released a couple of years ago. It’s a great sci-fi concept, tantalizing for those who may imagine all the things they can do if it all gets wiped away later anyway. The repetition aspect may suggest a dull tone but, conversely, most of these types of stories are very interesting, seeing the same events slightly adjusted each time.
In the plot, a very average office worker, Barry (Silverman), becomes aware of  the 24-hour time loop. There’s a staggering coincidence involved in his involvement, one which is rarely written about in overviews of the film. The cause of the time bounce (or time loop) is a new particle accelerator which is activated without authorization at midnight at his place of work.  Barry just happens to receive an electrical shock at that moment and this causes his consciousness to shift just enough that he retains his memory when everything halts and starts over again 24 hours earlier. No one else realizes that the day, a Tuesday, is repeating. I guess it’s lucky for the universe that the guy who realizes what is happening also works in the same building where the cosmic accident takes place. If it was a guy halfway around the world, this time bounce would probably never be corrected.
This is where the main difference lies between this new, lighter version and the earlier short version: it’s understood that the ultimate goal of the story is to correct things, to rectify the cosmic imbalance and end things on a happy note. The film ends up being an inventive, usually clever effort to present the wild possibilities of such a situation. Barry goes through about half-a-dozen of these Tuesdays as the film progresses. On his first repeat, he is understandably confused and even unaware of what is going on until later in the day. By his 2nd go-around, he begins to take advantage of his now nearly-godlike perception of the day’s events. Still, he is not omniscient and each new repeat reveals more info as to who are the villains and who are the good guys in the thriller-like elements of the story.
Silverman as Barry is a bit vapid as the film begins but he grew on me. Slater, immortalized as Supergirl almost a decade earlier, plays the object of Barry’s desires and the damsel he must save from being shot to death - more than once (!) due to the unusual nature of the story. Piven, now-famous for his role in HBO’s Entourage, plays Barry’s buddy at work; he’s very amusing. And Landau is the head scientist of the scientific project which may doom the universe to endless repetition. As a sign of the film’s unusual nature, all these characters die at least once during the film; who will survive the final Tuesday? And, though I mentioned how this is meant to end on a happy, even sappy note, I will mention one detail also not written about too much: there is one other character who turns out to be one of the good guys; he gets plugged on that final Tuesday; by eliminating the time bounce, the heroes unknowingly leave him to permanent death as time proceeds into Wednesday. So, yes, it’s a happy ending, but with a sobering addendum; I think many  viewers probably don’t realize that the character has been disposed of for good - that’s what happens in a sci-fi story where you have to use terms such as ‘permanent death.’  BoG's Score: 7.5 out of 10


The whole concept is similar to a time travel plot, though in this case the universe is affected by something, not just an individual. Presumably, if a person went back in time 24 hours, they would see their older selves and there would be two of them. Another film with a similar plot device is RETROACTIVE (1997), where-in 20 minutes or so are repeated; it was a more cheesy rendition. Several sci-fi TV series had at least one episode which revolved around the dilemma of a time loop. Star Trek TNG, for example, had the episode “Cause and Effect” in its 5th season. Star Trek Voyager had a similar one. I’m sure the show Stargate had one of these, though I can’t remember the details. And, of course, at least one TV series, Tru Calling, revolved around a similar concept.
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