Updated date:

Movie Review: "Palm Springs"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Palm Springs

Hulu Release: 7/10/2020

Hulu Release: 7/10/2020

Synopsis

Nyles (Andy Samberg) has been stuck in a time loop for longer than he remembers. He went to a wedding with his girlfriend, but he has been stuck living that day over and over again. He has long since given up on trying to get out of the time loop, and now just tries to relax, and have as much fun as possible. The only problem is, no matter where he goes, he always wakes up back at the resort on the morning of the wedding. Even if he dies, he still wakes up back at the resort on the morning of the wedding, which is something he has figured out after countless deaths and suicides.

After trying to sleep with the bride-to-be's sister, Sarah (Cristin Milioti), Nyles slips up. Sarah follows him into the cave that started the whole time loop in the first place, and when he wakes up the next day, he quickly discovers that Sarah is now stuck in the time loop with him. Nyles must now do his best at helping Sarah through all of her stages. She will surely be angry, confused, desperate to escape, and then eventually she will be forced to accept her new reality. It is that last stage that Nyles is looking forward to, as he will finally have some company in this hell, but Sarah's journey to that last stage will surely be a rocky one.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

The ProsThe Cons

Nyles & Sarah (+8pts)

The Comedy (-2pts)

Roy (+4pts)

Sarah's Montage (-2pts)

The Conclusion (+2pts)

Nyles & The Cave (-4pts)

movie-review-palm-springs

Pro: Nyles & Sarah (+8pts)

I liked these two characters individually, and I liked them together. Individually, they both came into this movie in very different places, with respect to their view of the whole time-loop thing. Nyles had been stuck in this time-loop for who knows how long, so long that his days of hoping to escape had long since passed. Sarah, on the other hand, has only just become stuck in this time-loop herself, and we saw her coming to terms with that on screen.

As such, it was interesting to see these two characters come together. Nyles finally had someone to share his misery with, and Sarah had someone to help her understand what was happening, to the extent that Nyles was able to. We have seen time-loop stories before, but this was one where two characters were in it together and had entered the loop at drastically different times, which made their interactions interesting. They each had their own personal issues, and they made quick friends of each other in their shared nightmare. Were they the kind of interesting characters that will have your eyes glued to the screen? No, but they were interesting enough to carry this story, and I thought the actors had decent enough chemistry with each other to make them an entertaining pairing while the movie was on.

movie-review-palm-springs

Con: The Comedy (-2pts)

It was not that this movie had no funny moments. They were definitely in here, but this was definitely not a straight-up comedy. The focus was on the drama and the characters' stories, with some comedic flavor sprinkled throughout. As such, I do not think this movie will ever make you laugh out loud, as it definitely did not do that for me.

At best, you might chuckle or be mildly amused with what happens on the screen, but you will be far from laughing hysterically. This would be fine if the drama and the character stories were enough to make this movie great on their own, but I do not think they were. The drama and the character stories were decent, but the mix felt like it was missing something, and I think that missing ingredient was comedy that was more effective. In other words, the movie's comedy was fine, but I think it would have been a much better movie if the comedy was dialed up a bit more.

movie-review-palm-springs

Pro: Roy (+4pts)

I will keep this one brief, as I do not want to spoil anything about the character, but Roy was a pleasant surprise in this story. J.K. Simmons is always great, and in this movie he played a massive thorn in Nyles' side. He kept both Nyles and the viewer on their toes, as Nyles never knew when and where he would run into Roy next, and the viewer never knew what to expect from him. This was a movie that was about characters stuck in a time-loop, which is something that we have seen before, but the entertaining and unpredictable Roy added a layer to this story that made it far more unique then it would have been without him.

movie-review-palm-springs

Con: Sarah's Montage (-2pts)

On one hand, I liked Sarah's goal, although I will get into that later. What I did not like was how easy it felt. Basically, Sarah needed to do something, and the thing she needed to do should have taken an incredible amount of time and effort, especially considering she had to spend a good chunk of each day gathering the necessary things before being able to pick up where she left off the previous day. The filmmakers decided to never explain how long she had spent doing this. Instead, they delivered a montage to show that an arbitrary amount of time had passed, and we just were supposed to accept what she had accomplished what she needed to during that arbitrary time. It was not a huge issue, but I thought this whole thing would have worked a lot better if the viewer had a sense of how long Sarah had spent doing what she did.

movie-review-palm-springs

Pro: The Conclusion (+2pts)

The whole Groundhog Day, time-loop story has been done plenty of times before, and one thing that many of these stories have shared is that the time-loops only seem to conclude when the protagonists go through some cookie-cutter character growth that wraps up the whole story in a neat little bow. They either need to discover something about themselves, or they need to come to the realization that what they had been looking for was right in front of them all along, or some other sappy ending like that. The filmmakers of this movie went another way, however. I do not want to give away what direction they went in, but they went in a more practical, objective based direction that put the control in the hands of the characters in the story, and I appreciated that approach, as it was refreshingly unusual for time-loop stories such as this one.

movie-review-palm-springs

Con: Nyles & The Cave (-4pts)

I liked Nyles’ story for the most part, but I did not think the filmmakers went deep enough into it. To be fair, we were kind of told what he felt, and Andy Samberg did okay with the dramatic moments. However, I think the character would have been a lot more effective if we at least briefly saw who he was before the time–loop and how he became who he was at the beginning of this story. Instead, the filmmakers delivered an interesting character, but they kept his story shallow.

Then there was the cave, which seemed like a plot hole, in addition to being a hole in the fabric of space and time. Nyles knew about the cave when hooking up with Sarah in the beginning of the movie, but he for some reason decided to take her within walking distance of it? I also did not understand why he led Sarah into it, then claimed it was an accident. It was the driving force in this story, but I think the setup of the movie needed some work, as I think the way the filmmakers got Sarah into the cave made no sense whatsoever.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-palm-springs

Grade: B- (81pts)

This movie was alright, but it definitely could have been better. It was another time-loop story, but I liked the characters in it. Nyles was someone who had been stuck in the time-loop for an incredibly long time, and I thought that was interesting, but I thought it would have worked a lot better if the filmmakers dove deeper into his story. Then there was Sarah, who was someone who recently entered the time-loop and the movie was really all about her dealing with that.

I liked the character of Roy, as he added unpredictability to the story. I also liked how Sarah planned to take matters into her own hands to try and escape the time-loop one way or the other, but I did not like the montage that went along with this, as it did not appropriately portray the passage of time. Finally, there was the comedy, which was definitely in here, but it never quite had me laughing out loud. It was amusing at times, and dramatic at others, but the lack of truly effective comedy made this movie feel like it was missing something. We have seen plenty of time-loop stories before, and this was a decent one, as it was amusing and had interesting characters, but it definitely had the potential to be a lot better than it was.