by Julian Spivey
Director: Max Barbakow
Starring: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti & J.K. Simmons
Runtime: 1 hour & 30 minutes
“Palm Springs,” directed by Max Barbakow, is a nice little addition to the “stuck in a time loop” theme.
The film, starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in late January and was acquired by Neon and Hulu for $17.5 million, a record for a film being sold out of Sundance.
Samberg plays Nyles, a man stuck in time on the wedding day of Tala and Abe. He’s there because he’s the boyfriend of one of the bridesmaids and it’s never truly mentioned just how long he’s trapped in the time loop once the film begins, but it’s been so long he’s truly stopped caring and just content living out his days floating in the pool and drinking beer.
In his possibly gazillionth time at Tala and Abe’s wedding he swoops in to give a toast to the bride and groom saving the drunk maid of honor and Tala’s sister, Sarah, in the process. Nyles and Sarah hit it off and while in the middle of a romantic moment Nyles is shot in the shoulder with an arrow by an older gentleman named Roy, played by Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons. Nyles and Roy both escape to a cave and are followed by Sarah, who enters the time loop too as a result.
The story as to how Nyles and Roy form this feud is one of the most interesting scenes of the movie, but the absolute thrill of the entire thing is the bond that forms between Nyles and Sarah and the chemistry Samberg and Milioti have together.
I couldn’t get enough of these two together. It’s nice to see Samberg in a movie role that has its wacky moments but isn’t entirely wacky. I’d also love to see Milioti have more lead roles in film.
I was a bit skeptical going into “Palm Springs,” which premiered on Hulu on Friday, July 10, because of the similarities between it and Harold Ramis’s 1993 modern-day classic “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray. “Groundhog Day” is one of my all-time favorite movies and anything that attempts to be like it is going to be judged harshly by me if it doesn’t come close to measuring up.
Like “Groundhog Day,” “Palm Springs” is a romantic-comedy at heart but it stands apart in the fact that Nyles isn’t a man trapped in time trying to get a love interest to fall in love with him, but is trapped alongside a love interest and the two are growing close to each other while navigating this new and seemingly never-ending life. It’s just enough of a difference to make “Palm Springs” work, and that’s mostly due to the chemistry between the leads and a good script by Andy Siara.
I don’t want to get into more about the movie because it could potentially spoil some things for viewers, but if you’re a fan of both romantic-comedies and films with a time loop plot I think you’ll really enjoy “Palm Springs.”