Directed by: Max Barbakow
Written by: Andy Siara
Starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti and JK Simmons
Whilst I have never been a huge follower of Andy Samberg, it is impressive to see how he has gone from your standard comedic actor to be a producer of music, TV and movies that have a genuine stamp of quality. Palm Springs is the fourth major film that his Lonely Island comedy group have produced but not directed, with the previous being the surprisingly sombre drama Brigsby Bear. This is more of a comedy but it is no less surprising. Palm Springs is a big success.
Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) both encounter each other at a mutual friend’s wedding, with their meeting causing a situation that results in Sarah becoming stuck in a time loop that forces the same day to constantly repeat itself. She finds out that Nyles has been stuck in it for some time as well. Sarah attempts to leave whilst she slowly falls in love with Nyles and Nyles wonders whether he wants to spend the rest of his life within the loop.
Whilst Palm Springs may look like a simple rom-com take on the Groundhog Day formula, it turns out to actually be a complex and unpredictable sci-fi movie that asks interesting questions about relationships, life and what a person does with both, especially when they are stuck in a never ending loop. The screenplay tells the story efficiently and goes in a lot of different directions, managing to balance multiple genres and story elements coherently. The humour is well handled, with witty dialogue and some outrageous moments really landing.
The lead actors also bring a lot to their roles, with Samberg and Milioti not only having great chemistry with each other but also being great on their own. Both play rather flawed characters, but they manage to make them genuinely likeable, with Samberg being effortlessly charming and Milioti proving herself rather capable of being a comic lead. Though the supporting cast are not as well utilised as they could have been, they also do well, with JK Simmons as Roy, an enemy of Nyles, being a standout like he often is.
If there is a flaw then it is that the film sometimes falls into rom-com clichés, especially towards the end. The script does also rely too heavily on exposition sometimes, but these flaws can be forgiven. For a first-time feature, the film is also surprisingly well directed, as whilst the low budget is apparent in the general look, the editing and direction manages to be both sharp and effective, keeping the 90 minute runtime brisk. The synth soundtrack is also a real plus.
Overall, Palm Springs is not only the perfect feel good and thematically relevant movie to view during (hopefully the end of) your isolation period, but it is also one of the better films I have seen in 2020. It is available on Hulu now, so get an account and stream it ASAP. Stay through the credits as well.