This is the film that broke the record for the biggest sale in Sundance Film Festival history, when Hulu/Neon purchased it for $17,500,000.69. So, why was it in such high demand? Quite simply, Palm Springs is fantastic.
It's another "infinite time loop" story, which has sort of become its own genre of films, all of them of course drawing inspiration from and paying homage to the iconic Bill Murray-led Groundhog Day. And while that film still remains unmatched, Palm Springs manages to deliver on all of the familiar fun afforded by the premise, while also building on its predecessors in fresh and satisfying ways.
At the center of this time loop is Andy Samberg, who plays a nihilistic man named Nyles… see what they did there? He's a guest at a wedding in Palm Springs, who’s living that same day over and over again, and has been for a long time. But when he decides to hook up with the bride's sister Sarah (Cristin Milioti), she's accidentally brought into the time loop with him. Sarah now gets to experience the classic joy and pain of a day with no consequences, but also no future. And Nyles gets to show her the ropes of being frozen in time, no longer forced to face it alone. The two must learn to live together in their new reality, or find a way to escape it. The journey is one that works as a sweet and at times very funny romantic comedy, while also offering surprising twists, and ultimately giving viewers a lot to think about.
The film is anchored by Andy Siara's wonderful script, and brought to life by great lead performances from its stars, who boast strong chemistry together and are a joy to watch. Samberg has consistently made us laugh on both the big and small screen, but he brings something extra to this more dramatic role in what may be a career-best performance. Alongside him is the extremely charming Cristin Milioti, who reminds us just how talented she is, even if those talents were not put to proper use in the disappointing final season of How I Met Your Mother. And then there's J.K. Simmons, who plays a small but still integral role, turns in a solid performance as always, and delivers perhaps the movie's funniest line.Palm Springs takes a risk by tackling well-charted territory that's been conquered so effectively before, but pulls the challenge off by bringing multiple characters into the infamous "time loop", each approaching the situation differently and giving the film a range of compelling perspectives. It's a moving love story at heart, but with something more on its mind in the vein of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or About Time. The film is smart, entertaining throughout, and highly rewatch-able, plus it just might be the perfect stream for self-isolation, when every day starts to feel like the same one as yesterday.
Palms Springs is streaming now on Hulu.
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