27 November 1999 | TVholic
Ever have one of those days?
SPOILER: Barry Thomas is having one. The really bad news is it keeps coming back.
Barry starts out as a likable, well-intentioned goofball marking time in a dead-end job. Underutilized, doing his best but going nowhere fast under the heel of the department head from Hell. A lot of people can empathize when he writes on his calendar: "Get new job or die!" Jonathan Silverman does a good job as Barry, making him sympathetic (maybe a little pathetic, as well) and vulnerable, but his unique circumstances eventually bring out a steely determination born of sheer frustration.
Unlike "Groundhog Day," there's a lucid explanation for why this is happening to Barry and the film revolves around how he tries to "get off the hamster wheel," as he puts it. "Groundhog" seems to offer an almost divine explanation, that all would progress once Bill Murray's character got things right. Barry was trapped in a self-perpetuating science experiment gone awry and he knew early on how to get out of it. Too bad it's easier said than done.
Helen Slater basically reprises the role she played six years earlier in "The Secret of My Success." Attractive, driven, young prodigy, brilliant beyond her years, emotionally cold in the beginning, worshiped from afar by a kind, wisecracking young man who eventually wins her heart and turns her into a giggling schoolgirl.
The plotting is intricate and it's fun to watch how each cycle changes even without Barry's direct intervention. Some things, like the coworker getting splashed with hot coffee, seem unavoidable in the grand scheme.
The editing in the home video edition is exceptionally fluid. Unlike most TV-movies available on tape or laserdisc, it's nearly impossible to remember where the commercial breaks were.
Still, if there were one flaw, it would be that Barry should have waited through one more cycle before breaking out. He'd only gone through four or five repetitions; one more wouldn't have been so bad. Getting out when he did left one of the good guys irrevocably dead.
It's interesting to see how many of this cast went on to NBC comedies. Silverman went on to star in two seasons of "The Single Guy." Paxton Whitehead and Robin Bartlett had recurring roles in "Mad About You." And Helen Slater had a guest role as a pyromaniac on "Caroline In the City," finally playing a role other than harmless ingenue.
One possible in-joke. Lisa confides to Barry that her favorite music is from the Carpenters. Coincidence? Or was this story originally called "Yesterday Once More"?SPOI