'Palm Springs' Review
It’s an infinite time loop situation that you may have heard about before. One thing about director Max Barbakow’s feature debut Palm Springs that should be noted is that it’s a comedy which along with horror often gets lower critical and award hype than those genres actually deserve, that is why you might end up hearing less about it. Storytelling premise of the film is obviously a familiar one but the way it makes its own entertaining path and mixes elements of adult comedy, sci-fi and romcoms together is both an absolute blast and admirable. In 2019, I gave two comedies the full five stars (‘Booksmart’ and ‘Jojo Rabbit’) so I’m quite confident that Palm Springs might very well be the best comedy of this year, therefore being one of the best films overall.
Cristin Milioti (as Sarah) and Andy Samberg (Nyles) star as two wedding guests who eventually are stuck together in a time loop for the day of the wedding, that being the most you need to know about the twists and turns as I purposefully didn’t want to know anything beyond that either. Both leads are on top of their form here, for Samberg this is even his best outing yet in any role (yes I know he has won an Emmy as well as a Golden Globe and is part of The Lonely Island and one hit comedy series). They have incredible on-screen chemistry, hit the existential dramatic beats too and Milioti notably delivers her dark comedy perfectly, making the two elevating each other’s game in every scene. There are jokes which get built up properly, ones that call back to an earlier event and even few that set up whole sequences. That is exactly what you’d want out of year’s best comedy.
Along with its stars, one of Palm Springs’ heroes is the smart screenplay by Andy Siara which takes the premise and shapes it around this specific film. There is fun to be had with repeating the day, then introducing new players (J.K. Simmons as Roy, highlight), throwing in mushroom(ed) sci-fi madness and also somehow exploring the mental and emotional pain of Nyles which actually builds the character who is stuck in this situation. Perhaps the biggest factor of the script and direction of it is that the filmmakers never forget they’re making a comedy. It’s constantly funny, never creating fake drama for its romcom aspects to be more classical and both Nyles as well as Sarah land in a place that the comedy launched (literally and figuratively) them to. I don’t even find faults in the film’s technical side; good costuming, cinematography, editing, score, music supervision and sets are also present.
Smileys: Screenplay, Cristin Milioti, Andy Samberg, humour, tone
Frowneys: Nothing that I wholeheartedly disliked
I would’ve also been happy if the film had ended with its ”fake ending” before the last scene which just furthermore highlights how enjoyable the pacing and all the characters were in the first 85 minutes.