When carefree Nyles (Andy Samberg) and reluctant maid of honor Sarah (Cristin Milioti) have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
Max Barbakow’s Palm Springs was a film that I had heard practically nothing about for a long time. It wasn’t until recently that I heard a couple of my fellow critic friends say that they saw the film at its Sundance premiere back in January and said that it was one of the greatest movies of the year thus far.
Going in, I wasn’t really sure what to think. I am a massive fan of Andy Samberg and I absolutely adore his role as Detective Jake Peralta in the comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine and I also get quite the kick out of his music career as the lead singer of The Lonely Island. After watching Palm Springs I can confirm that this is absolutely one of the best and most surprising films of 2020 so far.
It’s a non-stop laugh riot with every single joke landing perfectly. There came a point while watching it that I became worried that a couple of jokes would eventually become old and stale, but that never happened. With a running time of exactly ninety minutes, this also could have felt quite rushed, especially due to the plotline.
This is another one of those Groundhog Day/time loop films and sometimes, these can feel a little bit old and overdone. Gratefully, screenwriter Andy Siara comes up with extremely clever and innovative ways to rejuvenate this subgenre and make it feel more alive than it has been in a long time. It’s never predictable and goes in many interesting and shocking directions that I never saw coming. The way everything ultimately plays out is not only a lot of fun but is immensely rewarding.
But aside from the truly phenomenal writing on display, Palm Springs also contains one of the greatest performances Andy Samberg has ever given. Here, he totally disappears into the role of Nyles. He exudes a strong sense of likability and energy that few actors have been able to demonstrate this year. Not only that, but he has absolutely amazing chemistry with his co-star Cristin Milioti, who also gives one of the strongest performances of the year thus far as Sarah. Together, the two feel like naturals, coming together to create a movie that is certainly worthy of their talents.
Although it may be a small detail, the color scheme of the film also stood out in all the right ways. There are plenty of tropical colors on display that really make the summertime aesthetic pop. It’s further complimented by the warm and inviting cinematography by Quyen Tran, which will stick with me for quite some time.
Those that are looking for a brilliantly written, expertly acted, and outstandingly hilarious time loop comedy are in luck. Palm Springs brings the goods and is sure to put a giant smile on your face.
Remarkably hilarious, brilliantly written and expertly acted, Palm Springs is an exceptional time loop comedy and one of the best films of the year so far.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some violence
Directed by: Max Barbakow
Distributed by: NEON, Hulu
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Running Time: 90 minutes