Friday, January 15, 2021

Palm Springs

Palm Springs would fit perfectly in in a triple-feature nestled snuggly between Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow. When we meet Nyles (Andy Samberg), through the eyes of bridesmaid Sarah (Cristin Milioti), he's already stuck in a time loop around the events of the wedding of Sarah's sister Tala (Camila Mendes). A flirtatious night between the pair leads to Sarah accidentally becoming trapped in the loop as well (although her circumstances are a bit more complicated than simply being a guest at the wedding).

Director Max Barbakow and writer Andy Siara team-up to deliver an incredibly smart, engaging, and charming film centered around the two leads (and to a lesser extent J.K. Simmons as the only other person aware of the loop). Time is rebooted once they fall asleep, lose consciousness, or die. Unable to break free of the loop, Nyles and Sarah struggle to find meaning in a meaningless existence where one day literally is the same as the next. Although it doesn't break new ground with the concept, Palm Springs knows how to make the most out of each day and delivers the best comedy of 2020.

Despite it's irreverent set-up, Palm Springs does have something to say about the human condition. Like Groundhog Day, while being trapped within one day does frustrate the characters, the situation also offers a chance for change that neither would find elsewhere. The oblivious Nyles, who has spent so much time in the loop he's lost track of time outside of it, and the cynical Sarah, turn out to be a perfect match, but for them to have any kind of real future is going to require a measure of growth for Nyles and honesty for Sarah that neither have shown prior to becoming trapped in time. The pairing of Samberg and Milioti turns out not only deliver on the film's many comedic moments, but also offers large payoffs when the script turns dramatic or introspective. This is a loop I wouldn't mind getting trapped in over and over again.

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