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Review: ‘Palm Springs’ is Today’s Reinvention of ‘Groundhog Day’

Being stuck in quarantine has been very reminiscent of Groundhog Day if you ask me. Nearly every day starts and ends the same. They’re only so many things to do when you’re stuck inside; everything blends together into one big never-ending staycation. When I first watched the trailer for Palm Springs, I was hesitant to watch a movie about a time-loop since, well, it feels like I’m in one. 

Palm Springs is not your typical time-loop flick though. The Andy Samberg-starred-and-produced film is funny, nuanced and compelling. I was refreshed at the new approach Palm Springs found in the played-out genre. Even though this seems like the exact movie you wouldn’t want to watch right now, Palm Springs is absolutely worth your time. 

Plot Summary

Starring Brooklyn-Nine-Nine‘s Andy Samberg and How I Met Your Mother‘s Cristin Milioti, a wedding is the focal point of Palm Springs. Milioti’s Sarah is the jaded sister and maid-of-honor to the bride, Tala (Camila Mendes). Nyles, played by Samberg, is the carefree boyfriend to bridesmaid Misty (Meredith Hagner). Nyles and Sarah have a chance encounter at the wedding when Nyles covers for Sarah, who is too drunk to deliver her wedding speech. The two enjoy a night of revelry until Nyles is attacked in the desert, leading the pair—and the mysterious attacker—to a cave in the middle of Palm Springs. They each walk into the cave, triggering the time-loop. Sarah learns that Nyles has been stuck in the loop for an unknown amount of time and, frustrated with his nonchalance, is determined to escape. 

The rest of the plot focuses on the adventures of the couple throughout their days stuck in the loop. Without giving anything away, I can say that Palm Springs becomes a lot more practical than Groundhog Day ever was in the anti-time-loop mechanism it employs. I can thoroughly say I was satisfied with the science-fiction aspect of the film. 

Modern Love

Palm Springs is not just a summer rom-com. Nor is it just a campy science-fiction movie. Palm Springs combines the best aspects of movies from decades past to create a film that’s as charming as it is interesting. Samberg and Milioti dominate the screen: their chemistry and humor are what make the movie what it is. Sarah never felt like a helpless damsel stuck in an unknowable time-loop, Nyles never felt like an all-knowing savior who knew the mysteries to the universe all along. Palm Springs is as likable as it is because it’s lacking the expected Groundhog Day tropes. 

Palm Springs is a modern take on the concept. In every way, it embodies the contemporary feel of the late 2010s and its love story functions accordingly. The film doesn’t aim to portray the tropes or stereotypes of romcoms circa 1990—Palm Springs adopts an equalizing approach to the genre. Its lead characters are both flawed and experience growth; neither Nyles nor Sarah are made out to be a bigger character than the other. This equality likely stems from the bouts of alternating screentime the characters experience when they’re not in the same place. By ensuring both of the leads have a full, on-screen story told, Palm Springs is an approachable rom-com for a modern audience. 

Feel-Good Flick

As if modernity wasn’t enough to sell you on the film, Palm Springs is genuinely a fun movie to watch. As mentioned before, the comedic aspects of the film are pure gold. Samberg and Milioti play their characters with dedication and creativity—every moment feels organic. This is particularly true for the development of the “rom” part of rom-com. By virtue of the movie being a rom-com, it’s obvious the two leads are going to fall in love with each other, but the way it happened was enjoyable to watch. 

Another fun part of Palm Springs is the fun, cohesive world it creates. Seeing as Nyles and Sarah are trapped within the boundaries of Palm Springs (for the most part), they spend most of the movie at only a few different locations, outside of the wedding. They meet new characters everywhere they go, but the plot manages to stay light and forward-moving. I enjoyed how brimming with life the world of their Palm Springs felt, despite being in a desert much of the time. 

The Takeaway

Palm Springs is a delight. For a movie that seems like it could feel too on the nose, it doesn’t. It defied my expectations of what a time-loop movie could be. The refreshing take on the old genre suggests a change in the way time-loop movies are approached, even. Palm Springs is the model of the sci-fi-rom-com of the present fand honestly, I’m here for it. Watch this movie for a fun summer flick—the acting is hilarious and the plot is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Keep Palm Springs on your radar. You’ll want to watch it again and again. 

Stream Palm Springs on Hulu. Streaming July 10. 

Featured Image via Hulu.

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Written By

Sophia Moore is a 17-year-old writer based in Southern California. She can often be found penning works ranging from dramatic poetry, insightful articles and extravagant short stories about almost every topic imaginable. Beyond the literary world, Sophia enjoys voicing her opinions through debate, discovering new music (or more likely, listening to the same three playlists on repeat), browsing lifestyle and fashion blogs, and taking her dog out on long walks. You can keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram @scribblersoph.

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