A modern reinvention and provocation of Groundhog Day, Palm Springs is refreshing, funny, and brilliantly carried by its two leads (Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti). It's also one of 2020's best romances.
You'll fall in love with Palm Springs, 2020's time-loop phenomenon that's dazzling, wild, and irresistible frame after frame. It's a romcom that smartly blends science fiction, comedy, and drama all packed into one refreshing concept of immorality. In his directorial debut, Max Barbakow digs deep into reworking the Groundhog Day formula, while also relying heavily on Leaving Las Vegas. Similar scripts have worked with this formula and expanded upon it, think Netflix's Russian Doll. Palm Springs also succeeds in expanding upon this initial approach, blossoming into a potluck of genres and messages. Writer Andy Siara cleverly started the film with Nyles (a boozin' Andy Samberg) already stuck within the time-loop, making Palm Springs feel more like "a sequel to a movie that doesn't exist." Siara then adds Sarah (a wonderful Cristin Milioti) as a second character within the loop, serving as a navigator for the audience. Our film follows a wedding in Palm Springs, CA, where Nyles meets Sarah, the maid of honor, and the family black sheep.
After Nyles rescues Sarah from a disastrous toast, Sarah becomes attracted to Nyles and his nihilistic way of life. Yet, this all becomes complicated when Nyles is hunted down by a man named Roy (a hardy JK Simmons), shooting bow-in-arrows into his leg and shoulder. Sarah screams from the shock and horror of this encounter and begins following Nyles as he crawls into a mysterious cave. Nyles mumbles back at Sarah to turn around, but curiosity killed the cat. Sarah suddenly awakes the next morning — thinking it's the day after the wedding, however, Sarah soon finds herself reliving the wedding day (November 9th) again. Nyles reveals to Sarah that he's been stuck in the time-loop for God knows how long — if he dies or falls asleep he begins the same day over again. Nyles also reveals the man, Roy (Simmons), who occasionally hunts him was anciently brought into the loop with him leaving bad blood. This surreal interruption leads Sarah to trustfully join Nyles in embracing the idea that nothing in life really matters. Our two leads begin wreaking spirited havoc on her sister's (Camila Mendes) wedding celebration and around the town of Palm Springs — day after day.
Palm Springs is a near-perfect film that studies the effects of going through the motions of life while blending multiple genres into this wild film. Samberg has proven that he can both handle emotional drama and be a romantic lead — a new side I'm excited to see him in. While Milioti was able to shed both her emotional splendor and comedic charm. Milioti and Samberg's irresistible chemistry shines frame after frame as we follow their journey through the desert of vast eternity. Through many booze and even some special mushrooms, our characters hit the repeat on living like there's no tomorrow. This provocative romcom will make you laugh until your sides hurt and simultaneously punch you in the gut with its emotional toll. Our characters grapple with the real-life struggles of depression, pessimism, and abnegation in their repeating world — something many people are experiencing now for the first time in this COVID world of ours. Yet, this doesn't stop Nyles and Sarah from finding the best in themselves and finding comfort in the presence of each other. Palm Springs is a movie one could literally watch over and over again — through dark humor and a modern message on self-reflection, Palm Springs is one of the best films to come out in 2020. You'll find solace in this rejuvenating romance, I guarantee it.
Palm Springs is rated R (Restricted). For sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some violence.
Directed by Max Barbakow
Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Chris Pang, Jacqueline Obradors, June Squibb, Tongayi Chirisa, and Dale Dickey.
Available to watch on Hulu
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