Palm Springs (2020)

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is light, bright, sweet and highly entertaining film that totally took me by surprise. I will be watching this film again soon. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t really have to read any further: Go and watch it on Hulu.

A word of warning, if you haven’t seen the trailer or if you haven’t read anything about this film: Don’t go looking. The less you know going in, the better. I usually write a synopsis about a film in this paragraph, but I am going to skip it this time around – I’ll add something at the end of this review for my sake.

The script by Andy Siara is great in that it keeps the film fun and keeps it light. The script has some exceedingly funny moments in it that had me laughing out loud. First time director Max Barbakow does great with the film and keeps things moving along – the 90 minute running time also helps the film.

The film works because of the chemistry between Cristin Milioti and Adam Samberg. They have genuine screen chemistry. The supporting players are all great, I loved seeing J.K. Simmons in the film. He always brings an intensity to his performance, even if they are comedic.

The music in the film is well done, both the songs that were picked and the score by Matthew Compton.

Palm Springs is a charming film that deftly mixes a heart-warming rom-com with sci-fi. It also has a sprinkling of philosophy about one’s existence in a world where actions have no consequences. It explores loneliness in a place in which nothing is permanent. But, having said all that: The film is fun, very fun to watch.

Watched at home streamed on Hulu

Spoilers

Here are my notes from the film.

They will spoil things.

Don’t read these if you haven’t seen the film.

You have been warned.

The Real Spoilers

I like that Siara took the base idea of Groundhog’s Day and inventively spun it to include more people stuck in a loop at once. This allowed the film to explore ideas that Groundhog’s Day could not. What could have been a pretty dark look at loneliness is handled very well in the film.

I like that because there are more than one character stuck in the loop (more on this later), we can see how different people react to the situation that they have been dealt. The Nyles character is afraid of commitment and has sunk into a place of contentment with the hand that he’s been dealt. He acknowleges that yesterday, today and tomorrow are all the same. He’s okay with living the days over and over because he doesn’t have to deal with the problems of the world. On the other hand we have Sarah who at first goes along with Nyles, but eventually, even with all the baggage that she cannot escape, is determined to get out of the loop. I really loved the montage of her taking it apon herself to learn quantum physics, to talk with quantum phsicists and to find her own way out. The film subtly asks, which character are you?

There seem to be four people stuck in the loop, at least that I could see. There are the three that are specifically shown to us in the film: Nyles, Sarah and Roy (J.K. Simmons). There’s a fourth that is hinted at and I think is in the loop and that is Nana (June Squibb). She doesn’t have many scenes in the film (two, if I remember correct), but her lines in both scenes elude heavily to her being in the loop too – and I think she is just fine with being in the loop and not leaving.

The post-credit scene with Roy is interesting. He did get the call from Sarah and he knows how to get out of the loop. He proved it to himself that Sarah’s process of leaving the loop works by talking to Nyles at the bar and seeing that Nyles has no idea who he is. What I find interesting is that Siara and Barbakow left his destiny open-ended. Could they be setting up a sequel that focuses on Roy? If his only goal is to escape, that would be a rather boring film since Sarah left him with instructions on how to leave the loop. Could there be more comedy gold that can be mined with the Roy character?

And lastly, what was up with the dinosaurs? In the first scene that they showed up, it seemed like they were a drug induced vision. But, at the end of the film, as the camera pans up from Sarah and Nyles, now out of the loop, we can see in the distance that the dinosaurs are roaming in the dessert.