MOVIE REVIEW — Palm Springs

Andy Samberg Strikes Again, Now Go Watch Popstar! — ★★★★1/2

Truthfully, I have been meaning to get reviews done for a number of reviews since my last one, which was for Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, and still plan on eventually writing something for both The King of Staten Island and Shirley whenever I get around to them. For now though, I am skipping my to-do-list by shooting Palm Springs to the top! Ever since news broke of it selling for $17,500,000.69 at Sundance, with an incredible amount of positive buzz coming out of that same festival, this has been all over my 2020 watchlist. Earlier in quarantine, I finally watched the Lonely Island Netflix special about the Bash Brothers, and all I can say is… yes. I still stand by the idea that Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is one of the most underrated movies of the 2010’s, and so my expectations for this were quite high. Obviously, if you’ve read the subtitle of this review, you already know my expectations were valid, but if you still wanna join me on this review, then let’s get started!

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti in Palm Springs (2020)

This whole review is going to be pretty informal because I really don’t feel too inclined to write a serious, properly formatted, grammatically spectacular review for this film. The world sucks and movies have been my go-to way to escape from things since March, so just gonna keep this whole thing short, sweet, and totally off-the-cuff. My two cents; it’s funny as fuck. Like I said in the short introduction above, I’ve been quite behind on my 2020 releases, but this is already towards the top of my list of the year so far for what it’s worth.

Andy Samberg is truly one of the best comedians of this generation, whether it be working with The Lonely Island, Saturday Night Live, or Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the dude just oozes comedy chops like it is second nature to him. Nearly everything he does is hilarious, and he seems like a pretty genuinely great person to boot. Before watching the Palm Springs, my assumption was that this would be the Samberg Show, as I had only seen Cristin Milioti in her brief role on How I Met Your Mother and the best episode of Black Mirror, USS Callister. While she was genuinely fantastic in the latter, her stint on HIMYM was one of the more controversial aspects of the show as she played the role of Ted’s wife, and well, we all know how the rest of that finale played out. Having now seen the film, I can officially say that while Andy Samberg is an absolute treat throughout every second of this as Nyles, that Milioti more than delivers as Sarah, providing some nice depth with her character to balance the entire movie out from just being absolute insanity (see; dinosaurs). These two were nearly perfect together, with some palpable chemistry that really helped sell the whole affair.

Cristin Milioti in Palm Springs (2020)

Commendations should also be given to J.K. Simmons for his supporting role as Ray. While he isn’t in the movie nearly as much as I would’ve liked, his appearances are always welcome. I still can’t get over the scene between he and Samberg later in the film when Nyles goes to find Ray at his house in Irvine. It is one of the more serious scenes in the film, despite having a incredible punchline attached at the end of it, and Simmons really gets an opportunity to show his acting chops off. He is a man who has come to terms with this new reality he’s been trapped in, opting to stay in his perfect day with his family rather than trying to hunt down Nyles for eternity. It really is beautiful, but now looking back in hindsight is quite fucked up with Nyles and Sarah getting out and leaving Ray stuck in the time loop.

I think after Hustlers blew me away in 2019, I’m going to have to adopt a new yearly award, likely being the “I’m Usher Baby” award, in reference to arguably the best scene in any 2019 film. If I was giving it to any one particular scene from 2020 so far, it would be going to the sequence where Nyles runs down his time-loop-sexual history to Sarah, recounting his past lovers including her father (but not really). As soon as the montage cut to him with her dad, I lost it. Is it the greatest scene of the year? No, probably not, but it is definitely one of the funniest.

Also worth noting about Palm Springs is the elephant in the room; Groundhog Day. A classic film in its own right, and one that popularized this whole time-loop/deja vu genre of movies. While it is an all time iconic film, I would argue that Palm Springs manages to surpass its predecessor, adding more layers to the whole ordeal by starting the movie with Nyles already stuck in the loop, then bringing in multiple people into it with him, all of whom have vastly different outlooks on the situation. This distinction adds both emotional weight and story depth, as it is no longer the story of our hero stuck in this never-ending cycle, rather the film sees our protagonist stuck in this time loop for an insurmountable amount of time ahead of the beginning of the film, so much to the point that he doesn’t even know how long it has been, who also happens to get two separate people stuck with him, changing not only their lives but their psyche forever. Sarah literally spends potential years learning Quantum Physics just so she can figure out how to get out. Anyone who tries to argue that this is just a stupid, goofy Lonely Island project needs to reassess themselves.

Also, the most underrated part of the entire film is the fact that the opening crawl features the gem that is “Lonely Island Classics” in the style of the Sony Pictures Classics logo. That honestly really started this whole viewing experience on the right foot.

Palm Springs is easily one of the top movies of 2020 so far, not that there is much competition as out releases have been depleted, but I would go as far to say that even if COVID-19 hadn’t ruined the film world this year, it would likely still be in contention for one of the best releases of the year. Samberg and Milioti are perfectly cast as the leads here, each bringing great comedic and dramatic chops (surprising for Samberg), joined by J.K. Simmons in a standout supporting performance that I just wish we got a little bit more of. If you were ever on the fence about this film, please, for the love of god, get off of it. This is some real escapist fun, that also happens to be much deeper than one might expect.

Thanks for checking out this review of Palm Springs, and if you found my perspective and/or writing style at all enjoyable or interesting, be sure to check out some of my other work, and also be sure to follow me on social media to keep an eye out on what I’m up to! Here’s my review of Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue (or just click on my profile link and check out what else I’ve got)!

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Entertainment Writer, Sometimes a Film Critic, Avid Disney Villain Song Connoisseur || Follow me on Twitter @NVProfoundFilm