An effortlessly funny and enjoyable film, Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti’s time-loop romance/comedy treads familiar waters but brings just enough charm, wit and sincerity to make it one of the best comedies in years.
By now the time-loop story line made famous by Groundhog Day is well known amongst audiences, whether they’ve watched the film or not. Bill Murray’s strangely dark and heart-warming comedy made this type of film famous, and now we seem to get at least one of these every year. The concept is of personal interest and has gotten popular with Netflix Original series Russian Doll and Happy Death Day being some of the more notable additions to the genre. But not every time-loop film gets the gimmick right. Palm Springs does.
The story starts off with Nyles (Andy Samberg) waking up without a care in the world, having awkward sex with his disinterested girlfriend and casually chilling in the pool. His confidence in his laid-back outfit contrasting the formal wedding attendees, and him knowing too many minute details about all the guests lets us know that we as an audience are jumping right in at the deep end. Typically, these films show us the type of person the protagonist is before they got stuck in the time-loop, but screenwriter Andy Siara knows that we’ve seen it all before. In trying to fix their selfishness or wrongness, the protagonist of these films will usually go through a similar journey of multiple deaths and a period of egotism. We see Nyles do the same here, but through an original lens that pushes the typical love interest of these films to the forefront. Nyles and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) meet quite quickly in the film, with the slow build up to the main plot showing the connection that these two characters have. Soon, Sarah’s POV is brought into the fold and brings in a unique contrast between the characters. Nyles is incredibly laid back, as one would be when they can’t even remember what their life was like before being looped. In opposition to that, Sarah is a very determined and distressed character, and the way in which these two attitudes to the situation play off each other is a joy to watch. This is made even better by the surprise inclusion of J.K.Simmons. The chemistry between these characters feels real, and every emotional scene that follows from this feels earned.
The main pull however is that it’s simply really funny. If you’ve watched Brooklyn 99, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, you’ll have seen the charisma and charm that Andy Samberg brings to every role, but Cristin Milioti is a perfect addition to Samberg’s comedy. If this was all the film was, it would surely still be an enjoyable watch, but just as these time-loop films tend to do there is just enough emotion and philosophical thoughts to make this more than just a regular comedy outing. The characters are treated with sincerity, and in doing so the drama and twists that the film holds back are rewarding.
The film treads familiar water but inserts a fair amount of originality alongside hilarious and heart-warming performances from the leads that makes this film really stand out from the bigger releases of the year. If you’re a fan of time-loop films, comedies or Andy Samberg, you will love this.
Palm Springs, directed by Max Barbalow is available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video (certificate 15). Watch the trailer below: