Palm Springs is a film about an ordinary day in which an ordinary wedding will take place. Niles is the boyfriend of bridesmaid Misty. Perfectly ordinary, but slightly off. Niles seems aloof and able to predict actions and when he mingles with maid of honor Sarah, he takes her to a secluded spot to have sex. Though, when the night takes a strange turn and Sarah follows Niles into a cave with a strange glowing light, she is thrust into the time loop that Niles has found himself stuck in. The two form a bond as Sarah tries to figure out a way to break the loop. The film stars Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Chris Pang, Dale Dickey, Jacqueline Obradors, Peter Gallagher, and J.K. Simmons. It is directed by Max Barbakow and written by Andy Siara. The film is streaming exclusively on Hulu.
I will preface this by assuring you this is not Groundhog Day Redux or exactly like any other time loop film that has ever been made. Palm Springs esteems itself early on to carve out it's unique tone and sense of self. The biggest difference, obviously is that Niles is not alone. The dynamic between Niles and Sarah really makes the movie click. Seeing two people go through the same time loop and splitting some time between them was actually refreshing, then the film adds a third person and it becomes something else entirely.
Yes, I love that Roy kind of represents an unstoppable force of pain for Niles, a constant reminder that Niles' nihilist philosophy has screwed up someone else's life. Because it doesn't matter how Niles got stuck in the first place. It only matters that Niles has no intention of getting unstuck and the ramifications that has on the people he's inadvertently pulled in.
Of course, a time loop movie lives and breathes on its montage of multiple days strung together and Palm Springs has a truly great one. My favorite part of it, and maybe my favorite part of a movie I've seen this year, is when Niles and Sarah, in matching outfits hit up the dive bar and do an intricate, silly, hilarious choreographed dance. It's so perfect and weird. Samberg and Milioti completely commit and totally sell every minute of it.
I also love that Sarah doesn't take her situation sitting down. She learns that the karmic solution won't work, she learns that any manner of death isn't the answer and so she studies. Sarah uses her infinite time to just take in all there is to take in about quantum physics. She does the work of trying to find out how they could possibly leave. She isn't just instantly knowledgable or doesn't just show back up without us knowing why. We see her putting in the time and the effort. It's a great story idea.
Andy Siara's script really does smack of genius because of his upending a very familiar premise with something so off model and layered. Yet, this script doesn't sing if not for its two leads. Andy Samberg especially is growing into a solid comedic leading man. He's become an actor that I believe in emotional scenes, who can carry depth, as well as someone who can deliver a great zinger.
Though, Samberg's nothing next to the mega wattage of Cristin Milioti. She is an actress who can literally do it all. She has those expressive, large eyes and a small frame with which she's able to bring out a fantastic and funny physicality. She's able to carry a heavy emotional burden on her shoulders and make us care about a plot turn that I saw coming several miles away.
Palm Springs is a fantastic film. It has the deep time travel thoughts I crave with the grand philosophical statements I like. It's also just hilarious and raunchy fun. I hope that you'll watch it, I think it's very much worth your time and when you do, let's discuss because I have a theory about the brontosauri and where they came from.