Palm Springs Review: 21st Century GroundHog Day

Palm SpringsOne of the first things that comes to mind when explaining Palm Springs is that it’s a hipster version of Groundhog Day. Not in the slightest. The premise is easily to conflate it with the Bill Murray classic, but it immediately diverges off that path within the first few minutes. The Hulu original is one of those subtle character pieces that one wouldn’t expect from Andy Samberg. Because, let’s face it, the man isn’t subtle about anything.

Produced by his buddies from Lonely Island, the film is directed by Max Barbakow on a script by Andy Siara. Neither of which have had anything previous of note, but they worked together on the short The Duke: Based on the Memoir ‘I’m The Duke’ by J.P. Duke. Siara was a staff writer on the Lodge 49 series. Which allows for no bias when watching the film, unless you count Samberg as a natural bias.

Along with Samberg is a large cast, in very minor roles. Camila Mendes (Riverdale), Tyler Hoechlin (Superman), Chris Pang (Crazy Rich Asians), Meredith Hagner (Search Party), Peter Gallagher, and J.K. Simmons. Cristin Milioti co-stars with Samberg as his love interest, and it is perfectly believable that they would be together. I don’t know how, but their chemistry together immediately allows me to believe it.

The characters are not paint by numbers. They have emotional baggage that drives their motivation within the film. Not that we know much about their life prior to the time loop, but we know there is a drive (or lack thereof) for their immediate existence. However, the main motivation for Sarah (Milioti) and Nyles (Samberg) is whether their life outside of the loop worth going back to.

But that motivation is a bit skewd. Nyles has grown accustom to the life he has in this loop. There is no indication just how long he’s been in the loop. There seems to be a less desirable life waiting for him to return to. A girlfriend that he doesn’t like. While it isn’t played out for the audience, it is given in his actions or lack of action.

For Sarah, she is in a moment full of bad decisions. Constantly waking up to one of the most regrettable reminders one can have. For her, it is about running away. Something we all fall into sometimes. Running away from your issues, hoping to start anew. The wedding of Tala (Mendes) and Abe (Hoechlin) is the basis for her actions and motivation to find a way out of the loop.

Palm Spring is a sweet love letter to life. A metaphor of how we perceive our lives. Do we like it the way it is? Or, more like content to meek out an existence where we never evolve. Regretting things that we have done that prevent us from moving forward, or so fed up with it that we push ourselves forward. That is what Palm Springs likes to convey and it seems to do that in a particularly creative way.

Rating: 3.5 stars