From Groundhog Day to Edge of Tomorrow, the ‘time loop’ genre is one Hollywood keeps revisiting, ironically, time and time again. While the technique seems simple enough, these narratives always offer complex philosophical questions surrounding purpose, identity, and relationships. Palm Springs serves as a necessary rejuvenation of the genre while providing an intriguing existential twist on the romcom.
Nyles (Andy Samberg) is out of place, or rather out of time. He is attending a wedding of a couple he barely knows, his girlfriend is cheating on him and seems to mellow the pain by sipping a seemingly endless supply of beer cans. His perspective changes when he meets Sarah (Cristin Milioti) who appears as detached as him.
In a zany turn of events, their night together is interrupted when Nyles is shot by a crossbow (a pending future romcom trope). He is quite literally caught with his trousers down and pursued by the mysterious mercenary Roy (J.K. Simmons) for unknown reasons.
After mistakenly following Nyles into ‘The Cave’ (never explained, but honestly who cares?), both him and Sarah wake up only to be living the same day again.
Despite its chaotic opening, the film inhibits a very laid-back, relaxing feel. This is due to its sizzling Palm Springs backdrop matched with expansive blue skies. The set pieces range from a gawkishly bourgeois wedding to the mystical outback of the desert. They serve as a playground of sorts for Nyles and Sarah to romp around and do what they please.
An arbitrary rule I like to adopt when watching a comedy is that it needs to make me laugh (less chuckle, more belly) at least ten times. It’s safe to say Palm Springs exceeded this quota easily and by the second half I was completely on-board.
The duo of Samberg and Milioti is exceptional. Their relentless quips and digs at one another make up a large part of the film with the script (penned by Andy Siara) keeping the humour continually fresh and alive.
The music, scored by Matthew Compton, utilises a collection of tropical instruments maintaining the lounging around feeling on a long summer night. This easy-going attitude surrounding the film is undeniably infectious and certainly a welcomed escape from the current state of the world.
With a line such as “Today, tomorrow, yesterday, it’s all the same”, the pertinence of the pandemic cannot be shaken off. Yet, the film’s chilled atmosphere adds a level of acceptance needed to combat the chaos of it all.
The way the film handles ideas of nihilism and finding purpose is never too heavy handed or patronising. In a vein similar to BoJack Horseman, there seems to be a desire to accept what cannot be changed and to appreciate those around you. A simple message to be sure, but welcomed, nonetheless.
As Alexander Supertramp, another isolated survivor of sorts, said: “Happiness is only real when shared”. Palm Springs wears its heart on its sleeve offering a relaxing viewing experience and above all, an appreciation of all people, whether they be lovers, family or friends.
Palm Springs was released on Amazon Prime on the 9th of April.