At her sister’s wedding, Sarah (Cristin Milioti) is bailed out of giving a maid of honor speech by the boyfriend of one of the bridesmaids. Nyles (Andy Samberg) has no desire to be at the wedding himself, and the two take off to find a private place to hook up. Their intimate moment is interrupted when a man appears and begins to fire arrows at Nyles, horrifying Sarah. She follows Nyles into a mysterious cave, ignoring him when he tells her not to come inside. The next morning she wakes up in bed and realizes it’s her sister’s wedding day all over again. When she finds Nyles again, he explains that the cave has sucked her into a time loop, reliving the same day over and over again with him. While Nyles is confident that there is no way to stop the time loop, Sarah is determined to break the loop and return to her life.
So, this is today. Today is yesterday. And tomorrow is also today. It’s one of those infinite time loop situations you might have heard about.
I knew I was in for a treat when the opening credits that read “Lonely Island Classics” in the style of Sony Picture Classics. And yes, Palm Springs was an incredibly fun take on the Groundhog Day trope. Poor Nyles had been stuck in a time loop for some time, only the difference is, two people are stuck there with him. Roy (JK Simmons, who is always marvelous), a man who is actively hunting Nyles for putting him in the same predicament, and Sarah herself. So while Nyles has grown used to his repetitive life, Sarah has to go through the expected cycle of confusion, fear, anger, determination, and acceptance. And then, of course, more determination. Because she has her own reasons for not wanting to continually wake up in the same bed every morning, and relive the same day.
Milioti and Samberg’s chemistry is what made this movie so much fun to watch. Yes, it has more than enough laughs, but the heart of the film comes from watching Sarah and Nyles start to fall in love. Samberg delivers comedically, which is to be expected, but he also has a few scenes where he’s able to show his range as an actor, because underneath his carefree blasé attitude is a depressed, defeated man trying to make the best of a bad situation. Falling in love has given him something to look forward to every morning, but what would that love mean or look like if they’re able to break the time loop and return to some semblance of normal? Milioti was a gem in this movie, charming and witty while equally as devastating as she comes to terms with her mistakes and insecurities.
Underneath the humor is a deeper question about living life to the fullest and being content and happy with the life you’re given. At what point do you stop and realize how good you have it, in that one moment in time? What would you change, if anything? Am I reading too deeply into a rom-com produced by The Lonely Island? You betcha. But Palm Springs does a great job at peeling away those silly surface layers and giving us a rom-com with meaning, which is a rarity in this genre. This is definitely a movie I’ll watch again and I’m kind of hoping I see Samberg and Milioti in another film together in the future.