We all love Groundhog Day, let’s just state that right now. There are several films involving time loops, but that one snagged audiences like nothing else ever has. It’s a shame because I wish the Happy Death Day films had gotten more love. Now we have a new time-loop film and I hope none of you skip it. It’s a delightful little film titled Palm Springs. It premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to critical adoration, but for those of us on an extreme budget we had to wait until it hit streaming services. Hulu has released it to the world and I’m here to report that it’s a damn delight.
The film revolves around Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti). These two are stuck at a wedding, one that sees Sarah’s sister Tala (Camila Mendes) and her boyfriend Abe (Tyler Hoechlin). Nyles is attending with his girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner) and he’s completely checked out. Everyone else is in tuxedos and dresses, but he’s chosen a bathing suit and Hawaiian shirt. He’s drinking from sunup to sundown and is so nihilistic that you wonder why anyone would want to spend any time with him. When he finds his girlfriend cheating while hanging out with Sarah, the two sneak off to hook up. After being shot with an arrow by a man named Roy (J.K. Simmons) he crawls into a cave while she panics. He begs her to stay behind, but she chooses to follow. This is only a few minutes into the film, but here it reveals that he’s been stuck in a time loop so long he can’t remember much else and Sarah is now trapped with him.
It’s a high-concept film, but one that I found refreshing and sweet. We don’t get a lot of rom-com films anymore and it’s a damn shame. I didn’t care for them as a kid, but as an adult I’ve found myself loving the likes of Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron (shoutout to the Blank Check Podcast, which has introduced me to a lot I didn’t know about film trends). Now I find myself over the moon for this sweet little film, one that asks a douchy and hateful individual to ask himself if anything still matters.
While the film is charming in concept it’s an idea we’ve seen before. What really stuck with me is the performances of the two leads. Samberg has been wonderful in other things, but he’s usually going big. Here he’s a completely broken individual, one that has lived for who knows how long and has given up. The guy has made his name being an over-the-top comedian with The Lonely Island, a hilarious hip-hop group that wound up leading the film Popstar. Milioti is best known for her role in “How I Met Your Mother,” which unfortunately crashed and burned around the time she showed up and it is entirely not her fault. Here she continues to be absolutely adorable, able to sell her personality as a sweet person that doesn’t need to take your shit. She works perfectly with Samberg’s lack of ability to care and it’s very cute in all ways.
It’s hard not to view things without the veil of COVID-19 these days, and looking at a film dealing with reliving a day over and over is very hard to get through. These people deal with each other in a closed environment each day, stuck together as they live through this high-stress situation. While this wasn’t meant to embody our current situation it has in a prescient way. Not that you needed to know that, but I felt you should hear about it since we’re living in that kind of situation.
Look, your mileage will vary on this. It’s an adorable rom-com with some sci-fi concepts. I love all of this shit, getting stuck in the characters and interactions and I just can’t get enough of it. It’s a beautiful look at how two unlikely people can overcome their issues and find each other in an absolutely bonkers situation. Samberg and Milioti are charming as hell, and they work together in a way I honestly never would have predicted. We don’t get gems like this often, romances that are wholly meant as such. Take the ninety minutes out of your day and just feel better.
Oh, and Peter Gallagher is in this film in all of his eyebrow-laden thirst-trap glory. If that’s not tempting then you have no heart.