Max Barbakow’s directorial debut ‘Palm Springs’ strikes gold as one of the best comedies of the year so far. Barbakow takes the simple ‘time loop’ story and turns it into something more meaningful than expected.
When we first meet Andy Samberg’s (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine (TV)”, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”) Nyles, he seems like a fun-loving drunk who unexpectedly knows how to control a room and how to impress Sarah, Cristin Milioti (“The Wolf of Wall Street”, “How I Met Your Mother (TV)”) the morose Maid-of-Honor.
When things start to progress between Nyles and Sarah, something unexpected hits Nyles and he decides to leave Sarah alone to run into a mysterious cave. Nyles restarts his time loop like normal, but this time, a surprised Sarah tags along.
Samberg and Milioti have great chemistry and thanks to wonderful writing from Andy Siara (“Lodge 49 (TV)”), they share the roles of both the straight character and the wildcard simultaneously. There are some really funny scenes that made me laugh out loud often, but the romantic subplots really bring you into their world.
The supporting cast don’t do too much other than react to Niles and Sarah’s antics, other than J.K. Simmons’ (“Spider-Man“, “Whiplash”) Roy. Simmons plays a very integral character who has a full arc in a short amount of screen time. The interactions between Samberg and Simmons are definite highlights in a movie full of them.
For those of you who expect a ‘Groundhog Day’ type film, you will be very happy to know it does respect the classic. I could tell ‘Groundhog Day’ established ‘Palm Spring’s’ premise, but I feel like ‘Palm Springs’ benefited from telling a better story.
When we think of going through a time loop, we think about going alone. What if you could take someone with you? Would you want to have someone join you on the same day for eternity? Is love worth getting rid of immortality? These questions are answered in a very smart and poignant way which I think ‘Groundhog Day’ didn’t do as well. I will add that Samberg can easily be a modern-day Bill Murray with roles like these.
I am glad that the creators asked these questions and didn’t go sappy routes of answering them. They go a route that is least expected, and they don’t dumb it down for the audience, they just solve it and move on.
So let’s have a beer, enjoy a day at the pool, and see if we’re ready for any surprises at the end of our day.