Saturday, 11 July 2020

Palm Springs (Movie Review)


For all the movie shortages we've been experiencing recently, it sure feels like there has been no shortage of romantic comedies. Within the span of just a few weeks, we've gotten entries like The Lovebirds, The High Note and Eurovision Song Contest. Even regular comedies like Irresistible and The King of Staten Island had a strong romantic element within their stories. But of all the romantic comedies we have gotten so far this year, Palm Springs is easily my favorite one.

The movie stars Adam Samberg and Cristin Millioti as our two leads, Nyles and Sarah, both of whom meet at a wedding in Palm Springs. But just before their fledgling romance can blossom into something special, the day is brought to an unusual and abrupt end, only for it to start again the following day. Sarah soon discovers that they are both stuck inside an infinite time loop, one from which neither is able to escape.

Nyles, who has been inside the time loop longer, takes it upon himself to explain to Sarah how the whole thing works: basically, the day resets for either one as soon as he or she dies or falls asleep. But Sarah, who blames Nyles for her predicament, refuses to accept its confinement, so she proceeds to test the boundaries of the time loop's rules, to increasingly comical results.

Time loop comedies have been done to death at this point. But rarely do we get one that puts a fresh spin on the familiar formula like Palm Spring does. The film serves as the directorial debut for Max Barbakow, a name that we would all do well to remember going forward, given how good a job he has done here, right out of the gate. The film is laugh-out-loud funny; the bar dance scene in particular had me in stitches throughout.

I also loved that it felt like there was genuine chemistry between its two leads. This is especially important in a romantic comedy and a requirement that should never be taken for granted. Both Andy Samberg and Cristin Millioti proved that they were up to the task. J.K. Simmons also turns in a supporting performance that once again shows his versatility as an actor.

I understand that it is easier for comedies to thrive in the current movie landscape. They don't cost that much to produce and don't need to gross too much before they can be considered a success. Which I guess explains why studios are willing to take a risk with them on streaming platforms like Hulu and Netflix. So expect to see even more in the months to come. And if they happen to be anywhere as good as Palm Springs, we shouldn't have much to complain about.

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