For many of us, social interactions and outings are still scarce and few as we continue to contend with a virus – especially here in the United States where, so far, there is no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. Because of this, we’re forced to imagine how theater-going would be this time of year and which contenders, given a proper audience, would be generating buzz. Thanks to streaming, we have some idea of this and, as it stands, Palm Springs is setting itself apart as the comedy of the year following its success at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in 2020.
Nyles (Andy Samberg) is a seemingly normal guy. Charming, confident, and able to hold his own. At the wedding of his girlfriend’s sister, though, it is clear that he is working through some issues and his relationship is not where it should be. Sarah (Cristin Milioti), another sister of the bride, lacks confidence and would rather be anywhere else in the world than this wedding. One thing leads to another, Nyles puts on a show, and the two decide to act on their attraction for each other.
That night, however, things take a turn as the circumstances of the story begin to unfold and reveal themselves. Nyles has been stuck in a time loop for an undetermined length of time, but it is made clear it has been a long time, and is doomed to repeat the same day over and over again despite his efforts to stop it. Each morning, he wakes up and starts over. What ensues for Nyles and Sarah is a series of events with some dark and comedic elements.
Palm Springs is arguably Andy Samberg’s best performance to date. His character’s dive into nihilistic existentialism helps to set the narrative of this film in exploring the meaning of life and the value of his actions. Interspersed with comedy, Samberg has an ability to tap into the feelings of anybody watching the film, as these feelings and thoughts are ones we have all felt throughout our lives as we come up against hardship.
Cristin Milioti, who is not as well known as Samberg, breaks out with Palm Springs. She holds her own as Samberg’s counterpart and, at some points in the story, she is leading the way as she helps to influence some of the major decisions made by the two characters.
However, this film does not take itself too seriously. Even with its professed existentialism, which is expected for a film that deals with time loops, like Groundhog Day, there is plenty of time for fun. At one point, there is a classic montage of antics and theatrics that Nyles and Sarah go through when they fully grasp that each day starts over… and these things are always more fun when you can do them with a friend.
At about ninety minutes, this film is a breeze. It could have benefited from an additional ten minutes in order to flesh out some of the details, but there are few complaints with how it is. It is so good that when looking this summer’s lineup of comedies, Palm Springs is the strongest. It might just be the comedy of the year, dominating over Pete Davidson’s The King of Staten Island. Hulu has already reported record viewership with this release.
Palm Springs is now streaming on Hulu.