When two strangers, Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) find themselves in an unbreakable loop, reliving the same wedding celebrations over and over again, they try and try and try to find a way to escape the day, themselves and each other.
Whenever a new film comes along that adopts a story centred around the ‘Groundhog Day‘ idea of reliving the same idea over and over again, it seems like it’s just going to be rehashing the same tiring story beats as before. However, as is the case with Happy Death Day (and others), they almost always seem to find a way to make the story feel fresh and original. That is exactly what has happened with Palm Springs. Andy Siara, who penned the screenplay, has crafted a story that is equally funny and smart, and feels unique across the entire film. Sure, there’s some similar ideas that stem from the nature of the genre, but it feels like a completely new concept through the way the story is told and how it unfolds.
This movie comes in at a tight hour and 30 minutes long, and it is the perfect runtime for this film. There is nothing I would cut out for time and nothing I would stretch to make it longer. It’s such a perfect runtime for the story that this movie felt like it ran for two hours and I wanted it to last longer. It’s like a counter-argument to “time flies when you’re having fun”, I had an absolute blast the whole way through and then when it ended it hadn’t even crossed the two-hour mark. I guess the film’s time-bending narrative has broken the fourth wall… wait… has it put me in a loop? How many times have I written this review? Someone, help.
The tight, self-contained story means that it has a great opening with quick introductions, doesn’t waste any time in sending the characters through a number of challenges and eye-opening experiences, and closes out with a strong climax that does right by all of the characters. The precision that the narrative has been written with is obvious through almost every moment. It’s not all focused on the laughs either, it really takes time to develop relationships and put some characters through some moral lessons. Do you need to suspend your disbelief at times? Yeah, no shit, it’s a time paradox in a romantic comedy. But, not only is it fun, but the science makes it respectably plausible.
The story is one thing, but it’s the perfect pairing of Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti that makes this film shine so brightly. The two of them together are one of the best comedic duos put in any romantic comedy as every scene they share together (which is most of them) is brilliant. The chemistry between the two of them is unbreakable, and it’s like they’re perfectly in-tune with each other as they effortlessly bounce comedic beats back and forth to hilarious effect. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments across the entire film, some of them while the two of them are out doing their own thing, but the vast majority are a result of the hijinks they get up to when they’re together.
The supporting cast includes Camila Mendes, Meredith Hagner, Tyler Hoechlin and Chris Pang, and despite not being featured too heavily, they each have their moment or two where they get a laugh, usually it’s due to either Andy of Cristin being part of the scene. The most heavily featured actor outside of the two leads is J.K. Simmons who is just great across every one of his scenes. Even he only has a couple of scenes here and there, but when he does show up – it’s like Christmas.
Max Barbakow directs the film and does so in a way that brings every element together in a way that is very elegant. He’s given the film the sense of identity that it needed to stand out from other time-loop films. When you find out that Andy Siara and Max Barbakow had the film in their heads for years leading up to when it was green-lit, it makes sense that everything comes together so fluidly.
In the end, Palm Springs is an astounding romantic comedy that takes the time-loop idea and spins it into an original concept filled with some great laughs, a stellar story and a good amount of heart to add meaning to the characters’ journeys. Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti are the heart and soul of the film, delivering a tonne of hilarious moments and exhibiting unbreakable on-screen chemistry. This is a definite must-watch as it will be one of the best rom-coms of the year.