‘Palm Springs’ film review

Parker Otto, Columnist

It’s fair to say that any film that has the words “comedy” and “time-loop” attached to it will be compared to the 1993 comedy classic “Groundhog Day.” “Palm Springs,” a Hulu Original film directed by Max Barbakow, was released July 10 and is a film from the same vein dealing with both the comedy and drama of a day that keeps on repeating itself. Thanks to clever characters and hilarious writing, the film stands on its own quite nicely and even proves to be relevant for today’s climate.

Taking place on the day of a wedding, maid-of-honor Sarah, played by Cristin Milioti, notices a wedding guest named Nyles, played by Andy Samberg, acting strangely. He knows what people are going to say and do. When she follows him into a cave, she wakes up, again, on the day of the wedding. When she finds Nyles, he reveals they are stuck in a time-loop, having been stuck in the loop for an unspecified amount of time, and are destined to repeat the same day over and over no matter what happens.

After a series of escape attempts, Sarah accepts the reality of the situation and the rest of the film sees the pair abandon all responsibilities, party like animals and even try to outrun a murderous wedding guest, who also got stuck in the loop with them, named Roy, played by J.K. Simmons. 

Unlike “Groundhog Day,” which shows the main character before and during the loop, the film smartly only has Sarah go through the panic of being newly stuck in the time loop while Nyles is shown having been in the same boat for what could be weeks or even months. Because of this, in the beginning, the viewer shares Sarah’s confusion as she watches Nyles give an overly sentimental wedding toast while wearing beach attire. It also allows Nyles to give Sarah the rules of the loop quickly instead of spending a good amount of time having them figure it out.

These characters are also relatable because both of them are perfectly imperfect with Nyles having given up all responsibility having been in the loop for so long and Sarah being a screw-up who feels afraid of commitment. The chemistry the pair have is incredible and Samberg and Milioti’s performances really help sell the story. 

The humor of the situation is why the film truly shines. Seeing these two funny characters completely unhinged is hilarious to watch, as it’s impossible to tell what crazy thing they’ll do next. 

One scenario sees the two steal a plane only to crash it, resetting the loop and them waking up completely unharmed. The idea of having someone else in this loop angry at you and constantly trying to kill you is also a funny concept and, because actually dying is impossible in the loop, this leads to creatively cruel imagery.

While the film starts off with a lot of comedy, as the plot continues, the situation becomes more dramatic as both Nyles and Sarah grow more frustrated with their lives in the time-loop. The isolation the two feel is incredibly relatable due to the U.S. spending months in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This makes the message of “be thankful for each day” more powerful. 

“Palm Springs” is the kind of comedy that not only makes the viewer laugh, it also makes them think about life by cleverly reworking a plot already well known by most filmgoers. It’s a film that people need to see because of how well the film understands the humor and the drama of isolation. With what’s been going on in the past few months, everyone could use a good laugh and “Palm Springs” is the perfect film to brighten a viewer’s day.