Palm Springs is a delightful time loop frolic that never outstays its welcome
Palm Springs stars TV favourite Andy Samberg as Nyles, a young man stuck in an endless loop and
Cristin Milioti as Sarah, the lady who accidentally gets sucked into his world. It’s directed by Max
Barbakow and has already enjoyed a successful launch in the US last year.
Nyles attends a wedding with his girlfriend and seems to have an uncanny knowledge of what is
about to happen. After he delivers the perfect wedding speech, he catches the attention of Sarah,
the maid of honour.
The two strike up a fast romance on a beach but their blossoming romance is
suddenly interrupted when a mysterious man dressed in black turns up and tries to kill
Nyles. What follows are several familiar time loop tropes and a few new ones, which find the couple in
a variety of comical scenarios. Sarah is coming to terms with the rules of her new reality while Nyles
tries to convince her to just enjoy the ride.
Time has always been a fascination and firm favourite amongst film makers and movie goers alike.
The thought of being able to change past or future events, even as a fantasy is enticing. Between the late eighties and mid-nineties, ‘Time’ featured heavily across the movie spectrum, be it time travel, alternate realities, or parallel universes. More recently Time is making a return to prominence amongst film
makers in the form of time loops. I recently reviewed The Map of Tiny Perfect Things which tells a
similar story to Palm Springs but is aimed at the tween market while this leans more towards adults.
The film explores a few themes including love, lust, fidelity and redemption. While the story initially
appears to be Nyle’s, we learn little about him during the film. His background, family or how he came to be in this loop are not really explored. Nyles serves as a facilitator for Sarahs story and journey.
Sarah has a fractured relationship with her family and has little interest or belief in love due to
her past experiences. Sarahs journey gives her a perspective and understanding of herself and her
family she couldn’t see before. It’s not a reformative change, more like personal growth.
Palm Springs doesn’t attempt to reinvent the time loop genre. There are very few surprises and it at
90mins, it never outstays its welcome. It moves along at a comfortable pace and doesn’t spends too long
delving into the science of their predicament. This is a boy meets girl love story told with the time loop as the backdrop. The locations are bright and as the name suggests, bathed in sunshine. Despite the scenario, it has a positive energy and never takes itself too seriously.
The director does an excellent job of getting balanced comedic and dramatic performances from his cast. Andy Sandberg and Cristin Milioti are magnetic and make a terrific on-screen couple. They play off each other very well and their banter is never exaggerated. Screen icon J. K Simmons also puts in an entertaining performance as the killer in black.
This film set a sales record when it was sold at the Sundance film festival last year and its clear to see
why. Its light heartened but fun, smart, and entertaining. It has solid performances and despite its
familiar plot and themes, it’s well executed and lifted even higher by the fun performances of its
This is engaging, delightful and most importantly fun. While you might not necessarily find
much new or innovative, the sum of its parts makes it a highly rewarding and enjoyable movie