Director: Max Barbakow
Screenwriter: Andy Siara
Cast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Tyler Hoechlin, Camila Mendes, and Peter Gallagher
Palm Springs can simply be described as 2020’s take on Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day (1993). The film was released early July in the midst of quarantined summer. As many films from this past year, its plan to be played in theaters was no longer an ethical option and was released as a Hulu Original giving it the opportunity to be viewed by its many subscribers from the comfort of their homes. Before its release, the film had already picked up great traction after becoming a huge hit at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Andy Samberg, star and producer of the film, being a wildly known comedian through his rise on NBS’s “Saturday Night Live” and the success of his comedy group “The Lonely Island”, this was a film I had been highly anticipating. Although the “time loop” scenario has been remade a countless amount of times, this feature surely stands out. The film carries a high level of comedy all throughout, but also found a way to make its vulnerable and romantic moments incredibly real and relatable to its viewers.
The film begins with the introduction of Samberg’s character – Nyles. He wakes up to his girlfriend, Misty, played by Meredith Hagner, who does an exceptional job of playing the younger and “basic” girlfriend. Watchers can quickly gather her personality by how she whines to Nyles. As he goes through the beginning of his day, he shows little to no enthusiasm through his activities or to the people he encounters. Later on throughout the wedding, he’s shown wearing a bathing suit and Hawaiian shirt, holding a canned beer and clearly drunk. Before the viewers learn of his predicament, he mostly comes off as the random drunk boyfriend of the best friend of the bride. We meet Sarah, played by Cristin Milioti, as she looks tortured and zoned out through the wedding ceremony and then asking the bartender to fill up her glass of wine while at the reception.
The leads of the film meet as Nyles saves Sarah from giving her maid of honor speech as he drunkenly takes the mic and gives a ridiculous speech on life and love. Later that night, Nyles tries to get Sarah’s attention while he’s on the dance floor putting on a show just for her. This is where watchers can get an insight on the plot of the film as Nyles is shown mimicking the other guests perfectly and pulling out a chair for a drunk man just before he falls. Sarah’s attention is caught and she makes her way over him. Right off the bat, the chemistry between the pair shows through their comfortable and quick witted conversation. One thing leads to another and the couple makes their way through the desert of Palm Springs together. As they begin to hook up, Nyles is then shot with an arrow in his leg. Sarah begins to frantically yell “what the fuck” as Nyles, while in pain, is not too surprised and name calls his shooter as he already knows who it is. As arrows keep coming his way, he starts to make his way towards a lit up cave and crawls through it. As he’s about to enter, he sees Sarah following behind him where he begs her not to go in. Worried for Nyles, she follows him in which leads to her now being trapped in the endless loop of a single day along with Nyles.
Throughout the next portion of the film, Sarah is desperately trying to figure out how to end the time loop. She tries going through the cave again, staying awake through the night and even killing herself – nothing works. Nyles has been in the time loop for so long, that he’s given up finding a way out and has just made himself comfortable. While explaining to Sarah what he knows so far about their situation, he explains that they can only “suffer existence” and “find peace” in their new reality. This advice seemed too relevant to me while I was watching the movie considering I had been trapped in my apartment for about five months at that point due to the pandemic and experiencing what felt like a repeat of the same day every day. Although the film was written and created before Covid-19, its idea could sit close to home for the viewers at its time of release.
The pair begin spending their endless single days together and their playful and judgement free relationship begins to flourish. After a night of tripping on mushrooms and beginning to open up to each other, the couple decide to have sex, which they had agreed early on not to do in order to not complicate their relationship considering they only have each other. As they wake up the next day in their separate places of where they were at the start of their never ending day, they both are shown smiling and satisfied with their night before. This is where the viewers learn why Sarah had been so tortured throughout the wedding. Every morning, she’s been waking up in the bed of her sister’s soon to be husband, who she had slept with the night before. Her being brought back to the reality of her mistake, she spends that day acting completely radical while Nyles thinks that it’s because she regrets sleeping with him. The pair get in a fight and Sarah exists by running in front of an 18-wheeler, so she can die and restart the day.
The next day, instead of finding Nyles, she begins to wake up each day and spend time in a diner learning about quantum physics in order to find a way out. Nyles spends those days moping around and looking for Sarah. Once Sarah finds a way out, she finds Nyles to let him know and he tries to convince to her not go through with it, so they can stay in the endless loop together. Sarah is ready to continue her life and face the consequences of her mistakes, whereas Nyles isn’t quite there yet. Both characters were struggling in their lives before getting trapped in the time loop and had become complacent in a day where their wrongs didn’t matter. They used their unimaginable situation as an escape to avoid their real lives.
After Nyles rejects Sarah’s plan to go back, he visits Roy, played by J.K Simmons. Roy is a man at the wedding he had drunkenly brought into the time loop with him and was the same man that had shot him with an arrow earlier in the film. As he finds him, he learns that he has a wife and young children. Roy expresses how he is thankful for everyday that he gets to spend with his family, but is mournful of the idea of ever getting to see his kids grown up. This changes Nyles perspective. He finds Sarah, confesses his love for her and realizes he wants to create a real life with her outside of Palm Springs. The final scene shows the couple floating in the pool that they would spend each morning of their continuous day in which makes the watcher believe that their plan to get out didn’t work. The family of the home that was rented for the wedding shows up yelling at them to get out of their pool which implies that it is finally, the next day.
Palm Springs can be streamed on Hulu.
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Best Actor, Musical or Comedy – Andy Samberg
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Best Actor in Motion Picture – Andy Samberg
Best Screenplay – Andy Siara
Best First Screenplay – Andy Siara