Palm Springs

July 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Andy Samberg, Cristin Mlioiti, JK Simmons
Directed by: Max Barbakow (debut)
Written by: Andy Siara (debut)

As the world enters its fifth month of facing the life altering effects of COVID-19, a film about a day that continues to repeat may seem cosmically ironic. Despite its set up feeling a bit familiar (in more ways than one), Palm Springs presents itself as a refreshingly invigorating perspective.

After spending an extended period of time repeating the same day of a wedding, Nyles (Andy Samberg) is joined in repetition by Sarah (Cristin Milioti), who is confused as to how she got into this situation, and eager to escape both the cycle and Nyles.

After breaking the all-time record for film acquisition sale at the Sundance Film Festival by 69 cents (Nice.), Palm Springs lives up to the lofty hype by sheer way of sweet charm and irreverent humor. Samberg’s comedic prowess has long been a strength and remains a highlight of the film. The true surprise is in Milioti, who is able to match Samberg scene for scene and deliver both complete and utter dismay and subversive humor with nuance, subtlety and fantastic comedic timing.

As Groundhog Day has etched itself as a comedy classic, and with films like Edge of Tomorrow borrowing its thematic nature, it is nearly impossible for Palm Springs to not feel inherently derivative. The difference, however, is that Palm Springs is executing its story differently and touching on different themes. One of the best singular moments of the film, for example, is its way of introducing the concept of the time loop. Without spoiling, we meet our characters in much different places than we do in a film like Groundhog Day, which is made especially clear in a very funny reveal scene.

As such, we are also able to “skip” certain notions of a time loop scenario and jump right to the malaise of it all. Beyond that, it is clear that both of our characters are plagued by regret. Rather than focus on being merely stuck in the loop of repetition, Palm Springs is interested in what happens when one must wake up every day reminded of our biggest regrets.

The notion of cloaking surprisingly meditative and smart meaning in the guise of “bro humor” is nothing new to The Lonely Island, Andy Samberg’s longstanding comedy group who serve as producers on the film. Palm Springs continues that legacy as an exploration of complacency and indolence while never forgetting to be extremely funny. At a brisk 90 minutes, the film packs its laughs and sweet moments efficiently. Some plot points remain painfully obvious, while some come to a quick (and somewhat nonsensical) conclusion. Yet in a year full of stress and anxiety, Palm Springs is a delight, and as enjoyable of a respite as the film’s getaway location promises.