Déjà vu is a funny concept, reliving the same moment you swore happened previously day in and day out. Way back in 1993 Groundhog Day trapped us in a time loop that felt impossible to break free from. This concept has rarely been tapped into until recently with the film Happy Death Day, Live, Die, Repeat and the Netflix original Russian Doll. It’s unique in that when time is used in a film, the go to for filmmakers is time travel as is the case for Christopher Nolan so the thought of a film to use a time loop still feels fresh enough to explore.
Nyles (Andy Samberg) is trapped in a time loop, he lives the same day over and over. Unlike Groundhog Day he doesn’t seem to mind in fact he enjoys it. Unlimited supply of beer and he doesn’t have to get dressed up for the wedding he attends every single night. Everyday Nyles is rudely awakened by his girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner) who is cheating on him every single day. One of the nights Nyles meets Sarah (Cristin Miloti) after giving an impromptu speech at a wedding that Misty is a bridesmaid in. Nyles and Sarah have an instant connection while spending the night together, but things go south when a mysterious man shoots Nyles in the shoulder with an arrow. When Sarah wakes up the next day, she soon realizes it’s the previous day and that she is stuck in the time loop that Nyles is stuck in. To be fair, he told her not to follow him.
If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck it’s probably a duck, right? Palm Springs although not shot for shot the same movie as Groundhog Day feels like it. It’s completely derivative but it’s a fresh take on the time loop concept. We’ve seen this before, classic shows or movies from the 80’s and 90’s get a fresh coat of paint for the current generation to enjoy thus opening the door to discover the original film Palm Springs gets its inspiration from. That is exactly the vibe Palm Springs gives off. It’s not a rip-off perse of the Bill Murray led classic, its more of an emulation of what came before it.
“You’re not going to find what you’re looking for in there. Because once you go in, the whole day just resets to wherever you woke up this morning. Same thing if you stick around. The second you fall asleep, it all just goes back to the start.”
As much as there are similarities between both films there are the differences too. For one, when we first meet Nyles, he’s already trapped in the time loop and has been for a long time. He knows the rules and plays it safe within its boundaries. He also knows that no one should live like this but he’s so content and laid back that he’s fine living the same day over and over again. It’s fitting that another former SNL member would play a similar role since Murray is also a past SNL member.
Samberg is the right choice for this role, his charisma and easy-going personality lead this film giving what is a repetitive plot a fresh take. Unlike other former SNL cast members that go on to films, Samberg breaks free from his over the top personality to fully invest in Nyles making him feel like his own person. Samberg and Miloti are perfect together – Their chemistry together is charming and at times chaotic. The comedic timing and quick-witted dialogue doesn’t miss a beat when things are spiraling out of control. Even with their lives unexpectedly changing, Samberg and Miloti stay true to their characters development for the most part. Add in the wildcard of Roy (J.K. Simmons) to the mix pushes the originality of a basic romcom to something deeper and more surprising.
It’s clear this is Samberg’s movie, he’s the main attraction but J.K Simmons steals every scene he’s in. His relationship with Nyles is interesting because Roy adds a likeable villainous character and much needed depth to that type of third party. This type of addition breaks the formulaic mold that Palm Springs sets up.
For its premise, Palm Springs doesn’t dig too deep past the surface of what it actually is. Screenwriter Andy Siara lets the characters roam freely in their bubble’s while pushing the thought of escaping to become something Nyles actually wants. How Nyles gets stuck isn’t fully explained nor how the cave came to be the portal for getting sucked into the time loop. In all honesty those things don’t hold the film back whatsoever. As the story picks up, those things are easily forgotten since the characters and their individual stories are more compelling. Sometimes certain things don’t need to be explained too heavily in a romcom that blows people’s minds.
“I don’t know. We could wake up, and it’s today. We could wake up, and it’s twenty years from now. Or, you know, we could be dead, under a pile of rocks. There’s really no way to be sure, that’s why it’s a theory. But we have to try.”
Andy Siara brings to life genuinely likeable characters in Nyles and Sarah. It’s easy to feel invested in their journeys as they discover the love they have for each other. Having two people stuck in a life that doesn’t change whatsoever strongly relates to the year of 2020 and being quarantined. It can test a relationship and push those people to the edge that will either make or break them. There are bumps along the road but that’s appropriate with any love story. Both are damaged individuals that find each other in the madness of infinity. Nyles is a raging alcoholic and Sarah is having an affair with her sister Tala’s fiancé Abe. These two are reluctant to find some deeper meaning in the beginning but end up finding each other without realizing it. Nyles in particular is comfortable living in a time loop but it takes Sarah to break him out of his comfort zone to want to return back to normal life. They are perfect for each other by pushing each other beyond their limits.
Things do become a little unhinged when Sarah learns quantum physics without the explanation that she has an understanding of complicated science or how much time it takes her to capture the theory. It feels out of character for her that can take away from the main point of the love story. We are just expected to believe that Sarah has this vast understanding of physics that will be the endgame to break the time loop.
Palm Springs is a fresh take on a Twilight Zone concept. The characters are relatable to today’s generation while still paying its respects to what came before it. Samberg and Miloti are remarkable together as they discover the true meaning of living life beyond expectations. There are only a couple minor things that makes the characters a bit questionable in their journeys but ultimately, it doesn’t take away the enjoyment. If I were to rate Palm Springs, Id rate it a 4.4 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen Palm Springs and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Palm Springs is directed by Max Barbakow is Rated R and has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Palm Springs was released on July 10, 2020 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. Palm Springs can be streamed on Hulu.