Movies: Palm Springs

Mpepper/ July 25, 2020/ Reviews

This… was part Groundhog Day, part Hangover, and pretty much all stupid. So if you like that kind of thing…

Andy Samberg stars as Nyles, a man who has been living the same day repeatedly for longer than he can remember. That day includes the wedding of his girlfriend’s bf Tala, an event Nyles isn’t terribly interested in, maybe because (as BNL says) it’s all be done before, or maybe he wouldn’t have been keen even if it was the first and only time. Hard to tell.

When Tala’s older sister Sarah (Cristin Milioti) gets stuck in the time loop with him, however, Nyles must show her the ropes of existing within it. Then they hang out and goof around. Then they fall in love. Then she learns quantum physics to try and extricate them.

That’s… that’s pretty much the story. There are minor subplots, but they hold little to no weight.

The screenplay is bland and leans heavily on sex “humor.” That is, I assume it’s meant to be funny, but it was mostly trite. The characters lacked depth as well. We have the man-child, stuck in life both literally and figuratively; the ditzy, vain, cheating girlfriend, complete with trashy name Misty*, who declares that no one ever breaks up with her; and a would-be Janeane Garofalo character in the form of Sarah—disillusioned, no longer putting in an effort and wishing people wouldn’t expect things of her. There are odd attempts at something nearing philosophy (i.e., “meaning of life” stuff), but it falls flat amid the pedantic path of the plot itself, which fails to do more than skim over anything that might actually be interesting in favor of hitting all the color-by-number story beats.

Bottom line: aside from one or two cute moments, this movie doesn’t hold much for viewers who want anything more than empty calories. Despite the quantum physics, which is glossed at best, the loop doesn’t ever really get explained. For anyone watching this movie, brain rot sets in from the get-go. Samberg and Milioti, who have genuine chemistry, deserve a better script.

*Apologies to anyone actually named Misty; this is more about the connotations carried by certain names in pop culture than real people who carry the names themselves.

Speaking of, who names one child Sarah and another Tala? Like, those are two very different kinds of names, I feel? Whenever I meet people with multiple children, I feel like there’s a cohesiveness to the kids’ names. Parents think about these things, how the names will sound together, whether they “fit.” This is a minor point, I know but, as a writer, stuff like this really bothers me.

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