A clever time-travelling comedy you'll watch over and over again.
Here be spoilers…
What we like
There's bound to be the comparison if you haven't heard it by now, to Groundhog Day. The Bill Murray vehicle set the tone for future films with time loops as a concept and while we've seen some inventive approaches to the idea (Happy Death Day; Russian Doll; Edge of Tomorrow), Palm Springs carved out a path that's uniquely charming.
It's so weird to say this but in this time of human history, Palm Springs' release is perfect. For a show about being stuck in a time loop, it feels apropos given the quarantine, where days seem to blend into one another.
Barring Russian Doll, Palm Springs wears many faces—its a comedy, a romance but its also about existentialism. Andy Samberg plays Nyles who relives the same day over and over again but once Sarah (played by Cristin Milioti) is added to the mix, the tedium of repetition gives way to two people accepting and adapting to the loop.
Samberg and Milioti make for a great pairing; playing off each other's idiosyncrasies rather effortlessly. Their relationship goes through the peaks and valleys of your typical accord, albeit over what seems like forever. It is a particularly interesting study, especially with Nyles and Sarah being such different flawed and complex individuals—Nyles is a manchild with a nihilistic bent and Sarah is the wide-eyed black sheep of the family, who thinks love is a sham; are they together because they are the only people trapped in a time loop, who are interested in each other? Or is there something more that holds them together?
Produced by The Lonely Island—who was behind my favourite (and only) comedic visual album last year—Palm Springs might contain elements of their humour but overall, the film has a genuinely fun sweetness to it.
The script (by Andy Siara) is smart and doesn't lag. It's a novel touch to introduce Nyles already in the midst of his loop and the use of edits in withholding and delivering of information is masterful. Credit also goes to the supporting cast: Meredith Hagner, especially, really knows how to pull off the self-absorbed girlfriend with equal parts hysteria.
What we didn't like
For a movie that looks as good as it is, at times, the CG looks… off but that is so negligible and I felt that I needed to just find something negative to write about.
What to look out for
If it's not enough that the film has Nyles and Sarah going through their loops, the film is also edited to jump between Nyles and Sarah's perspectives. It might be a little discombobulated at first but certain scenes will set up for things later on. There's a mid-end-credit scene too so just stick around for that.
Also, 'Nyles'… 'nihilism'… I see what you doing.
Palm Springs is out now on Hulu.