Movie #67 2021: Palm Springs (2020)

Gosh, the human race loves a time loop, huh? I feel like I only just finished The Map of Tiny Perfect Things and yet here’s another one. But I don’t really care, because I could watch time loops every week for the rest of eternity.

Palm Springs is the latest movie in The Lonely Island’s collection, and you may remember that I adored Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, so I was really excited to see this. It features Lonely Island staple Andy Samberg (unsurprising, as he’s one of the co-founders) in the lead role of Nyles – a young man who has been living the same day over and over again at a Palm Springs wedding. One day, he meets up with the Maid of Honour and Sister of the Bride (Cristin Milioti), and they hit it off immediately. However, she also gets pulled into the time loop, and the pair of them are stuck in Palm Springs together forever. Meanwhile, antagonist Roy (J.K. Simmons) is obsessed with hunting Nyles down and killing him at least once a week.

Just so you know, I spent the first half of this movie thinking Cristin Milioti was Oona Chaplin so… Yeah. 

Okay, so it’s fairly obvious where this one is going – we’ve all seen various time loop stories many times before. Despite the less than original concept, I’m pleased to report that this one has a generous dose of Gen Y humour to back it up. Though not consistently hilarious, I definitely laughed out loud several times and I wouldn’t be mad if this is the type of humour that filters through into other comedies in the near future.

Perhaps what I didn’t expect was the cinematography. I know, right? No one ever really expects great cinematography from a comedy. But in this anomaly, the visuals are vibrant and often really quite pretty, giving it a leg up over other traditional comedies of this type. Narratively, it’s not all that different to other movies of this ilk, but there are a few more unique twists and turns that will keep you on your toes. 

Maybe the fact that the characters are so likeable and entertaining has something to do with the fact that you’ll soon forget that this has all been done before. Samberg and Milioti are outstanding as the leads and manage to underwrite their comedic talent with a beautiful sensitivity, but J.K. Simmons stands out the most as the (often insane) voice of reason. The ensemble overall is actually kind of great, but the leads are where the quality lies.

Tonally different in comparison to, say, Groundhog Day, but it’s not totally free from clichés. I expected to love this more than I did overall, but it’s a solid movie nevertheless.

Feelings of indifference aside, I will say that it’s probably my favourite new comedy since Game Night, which is saying something because that movie is top tier stuff. The bonus? The film’s conclusion comes with a heavy dose of Kate Bush’s seminal classic ‘Cloudbusting’, so it’s worth a watch for that alone in my opinion. 4 Qs it is!

Palm Springs will be available to stream in the UK on Amazon Prime Video from April 9th, 2021.

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