Palm Springs — Movie Review
by KJ Proulx
Films that revolve around characters repeating the same day over and over again has grown very tired in my mind. Groundhog Day perfected it and it really wasn’t until more recently with Edge of Tomorrow that I really found a film that seemed to stand out among the rest. Well, I’m glad that I can now add Palm Springs to the list of films to put a clever spin on this concept. This film was originally supposed to play at more film festivals around the world and eventually receive a theatrical release, but things being the way they are, Hulu has now released it. Although this may be a film that’s hard to find for some right now, here’s why Palm Springs is one of the very best movies to come out of this bare year of 2020 so far.
Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) find themselves sort of bonding over the fact that they both really don’t want to be at the wedding they’re at. He’s the date of someone who cheats on him and she is the sister of the bride, who clearly has many issues. Stumbling across a strange cave after the wedding, they both find themselves caught in a time loop that has them reliving the same day over and over again. Certain things are revealed about each of these characters that add a lot more depth to the story and I found myself incredibly engaged from beginning to end.
Where this film shines the most is in the fact that it completely commits to the whole time loop concept, even giving a few winks at the audience. It never once makes any huge mistakes logically, which felt refreshing, especially in the ways it would subvert expectations and most importantly in the way that they choose to conclude the story. The way Palm Springs wraps up was a very entertaining and emotionally earned finale. Now, I feel like I say this about a lot of movies that focus so much of their time on very few characters, but I truly mean that if Samberg and Milioti didn’t have any fun chemistry together, this film would’ve been a disaster. This is probably the most laid back and comfortable I’ve ever seen Andy Samberg be in a film and it made the entire experience that much better.
Only having written and directed a few short films and a documentary before tackling Palm Springs, director Max Barbakow has honestly blown me away here. With a small budget, a small number of characters, and a small scope, this film felt much bigger than it was. I can honestly see a big future for him in the coming years. I will gladly seek out his next project. On top of his stellar work on this film, writer Andy Siara (who also doesn’t have a huge filmography as of yet) added a very funny and clever tone to the whole concept. It was clear that the performers were very comfortable with the dialogue because their acting lept off the screen and that just seemed to be a nice mixture of everything coming together nicely behind the scenes.
In the end, Palm Springs is a film that I was very much looking forward to, but was wary of due to the concept itself. Thankfully, this is one of the best movies that I’ve seen accomplish this concept in years. I’m not calling it a masterpiece by any means, but for a fun time loop movie, I really couldn’t find many issues. At a mere 90 minutes, this movie flies by and has just enough clever surprises for those who may not have been completely engaged. While the idea itself has grown tired for me, this movie is undeniably hard to dislike. Everything about this movie put a huge smile on my face and if that isn’t what the world needs right now, I don’t know what is.
Check out the trailer below: