Take The Trip, Again And Again

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Palm Springs -- When carefree Nyles (Andy Samberg) and reluctant maid of honor Sarah (Cristin Milioti) have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other. Sarah (Cristin Milioti) and Nyles (Andy Samberg), shown. (Photo by: Jessica Perez/Hulu)

By Paul Hall

Caught in a time loop, not able to escape, is a tried and true movie plot device. Groundhog Day, Happy Death Day, even National Lampoon’s European Vacation — “Hey Kids, Big Ben … Parliament …” (wait, that’s a different loop) — and so many more efforts have dealt with the phenomenon of time and space. The premise is back in the new film Palm Springs, streaming now on Hulu.

Nyles (Andy Samberg) keeps reliving the same day as he attends the wedding of his girlfriend’s best friend. He is an outsider of the group and never quite fits in. And after being dragged into the repeating time loop, he just does whatever he can to pass the day. And on one of those days he gets to know the sister of the bride, Sarah (Cristin Milioti). Sarah is a bit of an aloof and reluctant party guest. She is spending her time focused on a glass of wine when Nyles somehow pulls her away from the party and the two have a good time together. That is until Nyles inadvertently brings Sarah into the time loop with him.

The two spend countless days together reliving the good and bad times together. They die, fall asleep and just frankly never leave the day. Are they stuck here forever? Or can they move forward?

It’s hard to believe the number of films that have taken this plot device and run with it. And it is even harder to believe that most of them have tended to work. Maybe I’m a sucker for the premise, but this version works as well. Palm Springs takes the time loop and adds a more adult spin to it. From a quickly out of the blocks sex scene, viewers are immediately aware this isn’t your parents’ Groundhog Day.

Samberg is funny and Milioti proves an almost perfect accomplice to the day. The two have good, bad and ugly days together that leave you cheering for their characters to come out on top. And speaking of nice roles, J.K. Simmons enters as Roy, an ideal foe to Nyles, and he delivers a performance that adds humor and levity to a man totally driven by revenge.

Memorable performances abound in this film that stays tight to its core, with only slight deviations, to create a briskly paced, 90-minute romp for adults. Reliving the same day with Samberg and Milioti is a pleasure and left me wanting more. Day after day, Springs goes beyond simply finding ways to die and in fact quickly delves into deeper conundrums and life questions.

Palm Springs caught me by surprise, and that’s a good thing. I was happy to spend the time with this cast of characters and would take the trip again any time, and take the trip again any time, and — well, you get the point.

Paul’s Grade: B

Palm Springs
Rated R
Stars: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons
Director: Max Barbakow

Available now on Hulu