Cons & EventsFeaturesMovie ReviewsOn LocationReviews

‘Omni Loop’ Review: ‘Groundhog Day’ Sci-Fi Comedy Gets Weird

Share this:

Remember when, in the depths of COVID lockdowns and isolation, we all became obsessed with a new Groundhog Day-style time loop movie called Palm Springs? It might seem like it happened two decades ago, but the movie, starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, appeared on Hulu in the summer of 2020, and we were all instantly talking about it. Omni Loop, a new time loop movie starring Mary-Louise Parker and Ayo Edebiri premiered at SXSW 2024 last week . Unlike Palm Springs, which reinvigorated the time loop conceit, this new exercise in a character learning what’s really important in life by reliving the same bit of time over and over again leaves the impression that one has seen this done before, and much better. 

[Warning: spoilers discussed for Omni Loop below]

Omni Loop: the story

In director Bernardo Britto’s second feature, after 2016’s Jacqueline Argentine, Mary-Louise Parker plays Zoya Lowe, a woman reliving the same five days on a constant loop. The twist in Britto’s story is that Zoya is endlessly reliving this week of her life by her own choice. 

Well, not quite. Zoya has a magic bottle of pills that, when ingested, take her back five days. (There’s some hand-waving about how she can only take one pill at a time, and it must clear her system before another one will have the desired effect.) The reason Zoya isn’t quite choosing this current groundhog week, which she’s already been trapped in for countless cycles when we meet her, is because if she doesn’t, she’ll die. 

Britto delights in piling on strange circumstances to the already out-there concepts of time travel and loops. Zoya has been diagnosed with a tiny black hole (about the size of a peanut, the doctor tells her husband and adult daughter) lodged between her lungs. 

The doctor explains to Donald, Zoya’s husband, and Jayne, her daughter, that all they can do is make Zoya as comfortable as possible until the end. When Zoya has the same nose bleed again and again that leads to the black hole metastasizing to potentially fatal size, she quickly excuses herself from the surprise 55th birthday party celebration her family is endlessly throwing for her to grab her pills and down one before her condition can do her in.

So, we have a miniature black hole in Zoya’s chest that certainly flummoxes her loved ones, but otherwise is accepted as totally normal, if tragic. (There’s a pretty great laugh line in the opening minutes when, immediately after the doctor delivers the bad news, a nearby gaggle of nurses and other hospital staff give a big cheer to a sporting event they’re all watching on TV.) 

Are we in the future, and this sort of thing is commonplace now? Unclear. Is this condition a result of Zoya’s life-long ingesting of the magic pills, which, we discover, she’s been taking in order to have a re-do whenever necessary? Not sure. Is Britto throwing any and everything at the wall to see what will stick? Possibly.

The details of how and why Zoya received the pills in the first place, at the age of twelve, is shrouded in confusion and sloppy screenwriting.

SXSW 2024: My Must-Watch Screenings and Premieres

SXSW 2024 preview article Banner

Groundhog Day inspired sci-fi story gets weird

Things get weirder in Omni Loop when, while visiting her non-verbal, wheelchair bound mother at her nursing home, Zoya can’t take telling an old lady to watch out for the bird that’s about to drop a splat onto a bench even one more time. Agitated by her hopeless situation, Zoya gets up and bumps into someone she’s never before encountered. Paula is a college student who is studying time at a local community college. 

Zoya became a predominant theoretical physics student when she was young (her ascent was aided by her ability, with the help of her pills, to retake tests until she aced them) and her chance meeting with Paula breaks her out of her cycle of despair. She’s determined to figure out how the pills work so that she can travel back much further and fix the life she feels like she gave up on when she decided to quit physics for a life of mediocre domesticity.

Paula is played by the endlessly talented Ayo Edebiri, who injects her acerbic delivery into the otherwise bland character. After Zoya figures out how to convince Paula that the two have met countless times before in the most efficient way possible, the pair brainstorm how to solve the problem in five-day chunks. 

Eventually, Paula has the idea to turn over one of the pills to the nanoscopic man, who can analyze the pill’s structure at the subatomic level (I told you things get weirder). It turns out that Paula’s local community college science department figured out how to shrink a person, but not how to reverse the process. In a blatant rip-off (excuse me, I mean homage) to a certain insect-sized character in the MCU, we get a brief look at the teeny, tiny lab assistant.  

Final thoughts on Omni Loop

Amidst all this storytelling chaos, there is a heart beating at Omni Loop’s center. Unfortunately, the character arc that reveals it is as predictable and shallow as the plot machinations are grandiose and outlandish. 

Certain plot holes, that become glaringly apparent after any amount of scrutiny, ultimately makes Britto’s picture ring hollow. What the director ploddingly details over the course of his film is handled much better in an MCU property. In the second season of Loki, that titular character must also spend decades, perhaps millennia, learning advanced science to gain the information he needs. That show wisely skips over the same scenario that forms the backbone of Omni Loop. No amount of wistfulness about the life you’ve chosen to live can overcome the movie’s plot shortcomings.

If you’re looking for a time loop movie that offers up much more fun and a wacky premise that actually holds together, seek out the 2023 Japanese film River, directed by Junta Yamaguchi, which I discovered at last year’s Fantastic Fest Film Festival. The loop in that movie lasts mere minutes, and you’ll delight in how creatively it’s handled, as opposed to Omni Loop’s slipshod approach at storytelling.

Do you plan to watch River or Omni Loop any time soon? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. 

Review: Problemista is Equally Funny, Heartbreaking, and Absurd

Problemista Movie Review

We’re All Gonna Die Review: A Boy-Meets-Girl Sci-Fi Story Stretched Too Far

We're all gonna die review banner


Share this:

Josh Thayer

Josh Thayer has been writing as The Forgetful Film Critic since 2014 and is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association as well as the Online Film Critics Society. Website:

Josh Thayer has 10 posts and counting. See all posts by Josh Thayer