Groundhog Day is the blueprint that all other “same day/time loop” films jump off of, correct? Asking for a friend. But being truthful, it really is. I can’t think of another time loop project that came out before Groundhog Day (upon doing some research, I found one short film and one television film that explored this concept briefly, but Groundhog Day was really the first theatrical endeavor). And all the other ones that came after, whether it be Before I Fall, Source Code, Happy Death Day among many others, only maybe Source Code has come even close to at least matching the masterful 1993 Bill Murray/Harold Ramis comedy. PALM SPRINGS just beat Source Code for me and is only a hair below Groundhog Day now. It is also now the best film of 2020 for me as well, as I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a straight to streaming title this much…since…well…EVER. It is a near perfect movie, with great set ups that provide great pay offs, huge laughs, incredible performances, and one hell of a tight 90 minute structure that I could’ve watched about an hour more of. I completely fell for this world and everything in it and know that in the future I will be watching Palm Springs over, and over, and over, and over again. I think repeat viewings will solidify how perfectly constructed this film is from start to finish. And it is likely to put a giant grin on your face, which is especially nice considering 2020 has been a total asshole to the entire world.
Per IMDB, it describes Palm Springs as: “When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.” If you’ve seen any marketing for this movie, you’ll know that the “unable to escape” part is the time loop twist the story has where several individuals are reliving the same day over and over again. It’s not really even a spoiler at this point anymore because this film has been talked about so much (but the ending has not been so SHHHHH, please don’t ruin it for anyone else!). Before you start to write this off as just another “time loop” movie that has been done to death, this one is unique in that it has more than one person stuck in this time loop. So the movie explores much more territory than Groundhogs Day did and digs deeper into the relationship between two (maybe even three) people. Yes, it did explore Bill Murray’s relationship with Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day, but it was more one sided, as she had no clue that a time loop was even occurring. Andy Samberg isn’t just Andy Samberg in this movie, he actually plays much more than just another Jake Peralta/Brooklyn Nine-Nine type (although that role on television will never get old for me). This is easily a career best performance from him, as it is also for Cristin Milioti, who has come such a long way from being what would end up being the **spoiler alert for something different** disposable mother character on the sitcome How I Met Your Mother.
J.K. Simmons is also in this film, but the less that is said about his character, the better. Experience that boat load of fun on your own. But like I said, the movie is near perfect if not perfect. Right at the end, when it was about to have a huge plot thread roll loose in a depressing fashion, it doesn’t, it remembers what it needed to explain a quick bit without spoon feeding it to the audience. I literally almost screamed “oh yeah” right as the scene happened. The movie has some great twists and turns that I dare not reveal here, just to say that I didn’t see some of them coming at all. There are great set ups, pay offs, smart crude and sex humor that I haven’t seen in awhile, the works. It has a definitive set of universe rules and doesn’t break or even bend them in the slightest. I love when filmmakers stick to that shit. It has fantastic replay value, as a feel good romantic sort of sci-fi comedy that should help you get out of any funk that you are in currently. Although the great and talented Lonely Island boys (Samberg, Akiva Shaffer, Jorma Taccone) produced this film, so you could possibly call it a “Lonely Island movie”, they did not write or direct this. That would go to screenwriter Andy Siara and director Max Barbakow, neither of which I’m familiar with. Maybe one day, as I hope they can make movies as great as this one. So if you have Hulu, watch this immediately, and if you don’t have it, fucking find a friend that does or do a free trial and just watch this movie if you have to. It is a masterful and hilarious 90 minutes to distract you from the days of COVID-19, which seems to be going on forever at this point. I know I’ve said it but, again, best film of 2020 for me so far.