In their own “Groundhog Day,” Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti live, die, and repeat.
Time loops have been comical in “Groundhog Day and “Happy Death Day,” and now, Hulu has entered “Palm Springs” in that particular genre. We have Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) as two people named Nyles and Sarah, who both attend a wedding in Palm Springs, and have some things in common. They’re both perceived as screw-ups (Nyles being carefree and Sarah being a drunken liability), they dodge an archer by the name of Roy (J.K. Simmons), and find themselves in a cave with a glowing red light, which sucks them back to this morning.
“Palm Springs” takes full advantage of the set-up by trying things we probably would never have guessed in a time warp comedy. It chooses to be a romcom and succeeds in being sweet and funny. And it also chooses to lead the two main characters on different paths-where they are when their time loops wake them up.
Nyles is more chilled about this situation than Sarah is, and the movie is fun in that notion. And you can’t keep yourself awake. There’s simply no use trying. Sarah does, and it obviously doesn’t work.
Samberg, producing it under his Lonely Island label, gives a performance so low-key and so ambitious, he ends up being viciously deadpan, while Milioti has spontaneous energy that makes her enjoyable. She’s the only one of the two who believes that if they make themselves better people, then the time loop will be broken. And why not? Bill Murray changed his ways in “Groundhog Day.”
And this is when the movie is supposed to be over. But it’s not. This selfless act of kindness apparently doesn’t break the loop. Now, that’s intriguing. I just have to keep watching to find out how they’ll get out of the loop or if they’ll ever get out of the loop.
I was uncomfortable with one particular scene, and that was when Sarah’s sister-the bride Talia (Camila Mendes)-fall down and break her front teeth. This happened during the first time warp, when Sarah jumps in the pool to attack Nyles. To me, that moment was unnecessary and detracts the humor in the film.
Other than that, “Palm Springs” delivers the goods, because of the chemistry between Samberg and Milioti, the levity that presents itself, and the consideration that takes place inside the script by Max Barbakow (the director) and Andy Siara. It also questions about the qualities and difficulties of being in a time warp, and provides the main characters with comical and emotional results.
You’ll find trippy moments like dinosaurs walking in the desert, you’ll find whip smart dialogue, and you’ll find yourself seeing nearly the same scenes over and over again. But you’ll see them in different lights. “Palm Springs” lives up to the “Groundhog Day” tradition without being self-congratulatory, and takes risks like never before.
Available on Hulu