Aman wakes up in the morning and finds yesterday repeating itself, day after day. After discovering what’s going on, the man uses his foreknowledge of what’s about to happen to change events, resulting in a dramatic improvement in his love life. But this isn’t “Groundhog Day,” it’s “12:01.”
While Fox’s imaginative and entertaining TV movie possibly wouldn’t have been made but for the success of Harold Ramis’ film comedy, Fox claims that “12:01” takes its basic premise — that of a man trapped in a “time bounce”– from Richard A. Lupoff’s 1973 short story, “12:01 P.M.”
But, like “Groundhog Day,””12:01” adapts that premise into something else entirely; in the Fox-TV movie (itself based on an Academy Award-nominated short by producer Jonathan Heap) an office worker in a top-security scientific lab saves the world in a light-hearted action adventure.
Jonathan Silverman stars as Barry Thomas, who works in the personnel department of top-secret Utrel labs. Company’s main interest is a particle accelerator that misfires, setting up the time warp. In the meantime, Thomas has his eyes set on physicist Lisa Fredricks (Helen Slater), who is assassinated at the end of the first day by unknown marksmen in a GM truck.
There’s dirty work afoot, which Thomas discovers and eventually thwarts as he tries time and again to save Fredricks from the gunmen. In the meantime, there’s a fair amount of action, comic relief from Jeremy Piven as Thomas’ practical-joking best friend and Robin Bartlett as Thomas’ boss, and a menacing heavy in Roy Denk (Nicholas Surovy), who spends most of his time lurking in the shadows and rifling records.
Story has plenty of twists to keep it going through two hours, action steadily mounting under Jack Sholder’s taut direction.
Silverman and Slater are appealing protagonists, and it’s amusing to watch the icy physicist melt as she begins to comprehend the plot and warm to nerdy-but-nice Thomas (aspects of this office bear a passing resemblance to Fox series “Herman’s Head”).
Pic looks especially good, and possibly could have held up in a theatrical release if it had been filmed first. And for all of the virtues of “Groundhog Day” as a comedy, it may not have had any single line as funny as Thomas’ icy threat: “Don’t think that I can’t do it — I’m in personnel!”