The tagline for Tom Cruise’s latest film is “Live. Die. Repeat.”
“How many times have we been here,” asks Rita (Emily Blunt). “For me, it’s been an eternity,” replies William (Cruise) as he relives the same day of an alien invasion over and over.
Edge of Tomorrow is a time-loop movie that can best be described as War of the Worlds meets Groundhog Day.
In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray says, “Every morning I wake up without a scratch on me, not a dent in the fender. I am an immortal.” His take on a drunk, suicide-prone weatherman who discovers the beauty of life by living the same day endlessly may be the granddaddy of all
Hollywood déjà vu stories, but many other movie characters have been caught in cinematic time circles.
The DVD cover for 2006’s Salvage asks the question, “What if every day you relived your own murder?” Originally called Gruesome for the festival circuit, the movie is as grim as Bill Murray’s film is life-affirming. Called a “digital video hell — spawn of Psycho, Eyes Without a Face and Groundhog Day,” by Variety, Salvage is the story of Claire (Lauren Currie Lewis), a convenience store worker who undergoes her murder over and over. Despite its extremely low budget — star Lewis doubled as the film’s make-up artist — Salvage was an official selection of the 2006 Sundance Festival.
The horror genre lends itself to time-bending tales. Camp Slaughter is a 2005 throwback to the slasher films of the 1980s. In this one, a group of modern teens stumble across Camp Hiawatha, a dangerous place where not-so-happy-campers are trapped in 1981 and forced to re-experience the night a maniacal murderer went on a killing spree. Labelled “Groundhog Day meets Friday the 13th (part 2,3,4,5,6,7,8… every one of them!),” by one critic, it’s gory good fun.
Not into gory? The Yuletide provides a less bloody backdrop for time-looping. The title Christmas Every Day is self-explanatory but 12 Dates of Christmas is better than the name suggests. Us Weekly called this Amy Smart romantic comedy about a woman stuck in an endless Christmas Eve, a sweet “nicely woven journey.”
Finally, the aptly named Repeaters is a Canadian film written by Arne Olsen, scribe of Power Rangers: The Movie. Repeaters is about a trio of recovering addicts who find themselves in “an impossible time labyrinth” after being electrocuted in a storm. Like most time-bending films, Repeaters is about learning from your mistakes. What sets it apart from some of the others are three unlikeable leads who use their situation to raise hell and break the law. It’s only when Kyle (Dustin Milligan) realizes they could be in big trouble if time suddenly unfreezes for them that familiar time-loop themes of redemption and self-reflection arise.
“No Clue,” a new film from “Corner Gas” star Brent Butt may be the most Canadian murder mystery ever made.
The story of Leo, (Butt) a bumbling Vancouver tchotchke salesman lured into investigating a crime by a femme fatale played by Amy Smart, is a mildest mannered murder mystery since “Mysteriously Yours” started serving up main courses with mayhem.
The movie begins with Leo taking a meeting with Kyra (Smart). At first he thinks she’s a client for his doohickey business but soon realizes she’s wandered into his office instead of the private detective agency across the hall.
As she tells him the story of her brother’s disappearance he becomes enamored of her and plays along, agreeing to take the case despite his total lack of Sam Spade experience.
Blundering his way through the case he soon learns there is more to Kyra than a pretty face and crocodile tears for her brother.
There isn’t a lot of grit to “No Clue.” It grafts a sitcom premise to a “Columbo” episode, relying on the comedy to sell the story. Butt and David Koechner go for laughs, while the rest of the cast—Smart, David Cubitt and Dustin Milligan—play it straight.
It’s kind of an odd mix. Movies like “Fletch,” “High Anxiety” and “Foul Play” have walked this path before but each of those had more edge. “No Clue” is an amiable attempt at mixing and matching film noir and gags, but feels more like a Halloween episode of “Corner Gas” where “Hank” Yarbo mysteriously disappears after a wild weekend in Carrot River, Saskatchewan.
Butt is a likeable performer, the same likeable performer who was the cornerstone of “Corner Gas” for six seasons. He brings the folksy charm that kept that show on the air to the film but he doesn’t fill the big screen in quite the same way he did the TV screen.
“The Whistler Film Festival was the first opportunity I got to sit in a room with strangers and have them watch the movie and I was very nervous going into it,” says comedian Brent Butt about his new film No Clue.
In the film he stars as Leo, a mild mannered Vancouver tchotchke salesman lured into a murder mystery by a femme fatale played by Amy Smart. “It’s a very dark, classic kind of detective mystery but the main characters say funny things,” says Butt.
“We really felt, totally objectively, that we made the movie we wanted to make but that part of my brain that is the stand up comic said, ‘What you think doesn’t really matter. The audience will let you know,’ and the audience is everything to me.
“Long before Corner Gas came around I was just a greasy nightclub comic, out there getting it done. When you are doing that you always have the ability to shift gears. You think, ‘They’re not buying the sports stuff so I’ll talk about politics,’ but with this movie if they’re not liking it five minutes in you can’t say, ‘Everybody go get a drink. I’m going to reedit this.’ You are locked in.”
Audience reaction was “better than we ever could have imagined” for a movie he calls a “tricky balancing act.”
“I wanted to make a movie that if it wasn’t funny would still be entertaining. It would still be thrilling and a mystery and have all those good, juicy elements and then the funny kind of folds in like gravy. It’s on top of everything else.
“From the writing stand point there were a lot of funny jokes I neglected to put in the movie because I felt this is funny but it is ultimately going to damage the reality. For this movie to work it has to feel real. One of the things we did early on was tell everybody to forget that this is a comedy. Pretend you are making a dark murder mystery. That’s what this is. The comedy will come in elsewhere.”
Butt cites a famous example of the kind of film he wanted to make.
“Beverly Hills Cop was written not to be a funny movie. It was written to be a thriller and then they cast Eddie Murphy and said, ‘Let’s make it funny.’ But if you take all the funny things that Eddie says out, it still holds water as an action movie.”