Palm Springs

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5   MUST must see SEE

Palm Springs
dir Max Barbakow
scr Andy Siara
prd Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Becky Sloviter, Jorma Taccone
with Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, JK Simmons, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Peter Gallagher, Jacqueline Obradors, Chris Pang, Tongayi Chirisa, June Squibb, Dale Dickey
release US 10.Jul.20
20/US Hulu 1h30

simmons hoechlin squibb

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samberg and milioti
A nutty premise infused with hilarious antics makes this feel like a rather ridiculous romcom, but there's a lot more going on here. Along with continual laugh-out-loud gags, there's humour that's very close to the knuckle, finding surprising resonance even as the film celebrates the absurdity of everyday life. So as the script meaningfully grapples with deeper themes, the story and characters are cute enough to make us swoon.
Charming goofball Nyles (Samberg) heads to Palm Springs with his high-maintenance girlfriend Misty (Hagner) for the wedding of Tala and Abe (Mendes and Hoechlin). Hijacking the speeches, he catches the eye of surly maid-of-honour Sarah (Milioti), who recognises a kindred spirit. But their amorous encounter is interrupted by a freaky anomaly that forces them to relive this annoying wedding over and over again. And someone named Roy (Simmons) is trying to kill Nyles. The question is whether they can stop the repetition or if they'll need to accept that this is their new reality.
Barbakow's direction plays up the silliness without ever becoming stupid, while Siara's script drops details in surprising places, continually shifting the narrative. It's immediately clear that Nyles has been stuck in this loop for awhile, which explains his exasperated, disruptive behaviour. He's had thousands of cycles to try every conceivable option, discovering ways to make this existence as amusingly painless as possible. So of course he's happy to have someone to play with now. On the other hand, this is all-new for Sarah, and she's determined to break the cycle.

Samberg is expert at playing someone who's both irritatingly mischievous and hugely likeable. Without being obvious about it, he infuses Nyles with astute details that reveal how he's feeling. So his interaction with the other characters is both organic and surprising. Milioti brings a sparky edge to Sarah that gives her a journey all her own. Simmons has some terrific moments later on, as his own story becomes more defined, while the starry side players have scene-stealing fun with the witty interconnections.

This is a bracingly original exploration of the concept of personal responsibility, with added knowing commentary on the nature of weddings and monogamy. Refreshingly, there's no overt message, aside from the recognition that societal norms are essentially laughable. What Nyles and Sarah discover is that time is abstract, and it's irrelevant in connection to the idea of falling in love forever. "What if we get sick of each other?" "We're already sick of each other!"

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 10.Jul.20

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© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall