REVIEW: ‘Palm Springs’ is a superb time loop comedy

The “Groundhog Day” formula just works. It worked in that movie. It worked in “Happy Death Day.” And it works here in “Palm Springs.”

The new flick, available from Hulu, stars Cristin Milioti as Sarah, a woman who’s the Maid of Honor at her sister’s wedding. While it’s usually a time of celebration, though, Sarah isn’t having a great time. That is until she meets Nyles (Andy Samberg), a free spirited guy who’s also a guest at the wedding.

The two hit it off that night and things seem to be going well. However, through a series of events, Sarah follows Nyles into a cave and wakes up on the day of her sister’s wedding again. After this happens a few more times, Sarah realizes she’s in a time-loop, and Nyles happens to be stuck in that loop, too. While she initially hates it, Sarah soon becomes accustomed to the cycle and eventually begins having fun hanging out with Nyles on a daily basis, with all of those days being the same.

As stated in the first sentence, “Palm Springs” is a time loop movie, and thankfully, it’s a fantastic addition to the sub-genre. Of course the repeating day trope is well known, but “Palm Spring” sets itself apart in a few ways to make it its own thing.

More importantly, though, the film is extremely funny. There are so many shocking and unexpected moments that can catch a person off guard, and they range from major gags to simple facial reactions.

The screenplay, written by Andy Siara, is brilliant, with a superb balance of outrageous moments and more subtle, cynical dialogue, and both can produce big laughs. The comedy is consistently above average, making for a very enjoyable watch.

palm spring blog
Courtesy The Lonely Island, Film Nation Entertainment, Neon and Hulu.

Despite its strength, “Palm Springs” starts to slightly run out of steam in the second half. The first half of the movie where Sarah is experiencing the daily resets include the funniest moments by far. The second half starts to go into more expected territory and the humor is a little scaled back, so it’s not as strong.

That’s not to say it’s bad, though, the second half is still enjoyable and put together, the whole movie is great.

Helping to make the movie a really good experience are the two leads. Milioti and Samberg are phenomenal in the movie, each of them having great comedic timing and a dash of dramatic effect to push the movie above the level of an average entry in the humor genre.

When it comes to the latter, Siara and director Max Barbakow are able to create some solid scenes that explore the concepts of relationships, love and self reflection in a realm where time isn’t a factor. The film gets into some deep territory at times and it adds to the experience.

The supporting cast is nice here, too, with some fun character actors and a fantastic side performance from J.K. Simmons. It creates a well rounded experience from the character perspective.

“Palm Springs” slows down a bit in the second half after a great start but still cross the finish line in nice fashion. It’s funny, it has heart and overall it is just enjoyable spending time with these two characters. 4.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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