It’s the day of her sister’s wedding and maid-of-honour Sarah (Cristin Milioti) would rather be anywhere else. She proceeds to get drunk and flirty with Nyles (Andy Samberg), whose impromptu wedding speech has saved her from having to give one. They wander off and despite Nyles warning her not to follow him, Sarah ventures into a cave after him. There, she’s sucked into a vortex and suddenly wakes up. The wedding day has started all over again. Turns out that she, like Nyles, has fallen victim to a time loop, forced to relive the same day over and over.
‘Palm Springs’ utilises that whole wedding plot we’ve seen time and again in cinema, whether it’s a comedy classic like ‘Meet the Parents’ or ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’, or something more recent like ‘Bridesmaids’ or ‘The Farewell’.
Combine that with a ‘Groundhog Day’ paradox, complemented by two delightful leads in Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti (best-known for playing the Mother in ‘How I Met Your Mother’), and all the ingredients are there for a highly enjoyable movie – the kind that you could see yourself introducing your friends to, and going back to re-watch in a few months time.
Like those wedding movies, everything that could go wrong on the Big Day does, leading to some laugh-out-loud comedy. But as with ‘Groundhog Day’, there are darker sides to ‘Palm Springs’ too as a couple of twists prove heart-breaking.
It makes sense then why ‘Palm Springs’ has proven popular with both audiences and critics, earning a number of awards. It’s smart, as well as highly entertaining, with a tight, witty screenplay by Andy Siara and director Max Barbakow. It exploits those comical, awkward social situations and surrealist science fiction well. Moreover, Samberg and Milioti share great chemistry. Samberg is basically reiterating every character he's ever played, between ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ and those Lonely Island sketches. But sure if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
One delights in seeing the story play out as the couple embrace their new lives and get up to all kinds of nonsense. Sure anyone would be the same being free from responsibilities or consequences. They decimate the wedding, drink a tonne, but also venture out into the wider area of Palm Springs.
Inevitably, feelings crop up as they get to know one another. After all, few if any other attempts at adapting the ‘Groundhog Day’ concept have considered having two persons stuck in time. So naturally the potential for a rom com was there.
Additionally, the film’s exploration of morality is interesting, as Nyles reminds Sarah that even if no one else does, they’ll remember what they’ve done, and have to live with it regardless.
If that doesn’t all convince you, J.K. Simmons plays a man who is out for Samberg’s ass. So that’s pretty great too.
‘Palm Springs’ streams on Amazon Prime from Friday, 9 April.