Palm Springs review — A timely, terrific romcom (with a twist)

Directed by Max Barbakow | Written by Andy Siara | 90 min | Amazon Prime 

“This is one of those infinite time loop situations you might’ve heard about,” says Nyles (Andy Samberg), stuck in a repeating day at the California desert wedding where his girlfriend, Misty (Meredith Hagner), is a bridesmaid. Maid of Honour, Sarah (Cristin Milioti), she’s the one Nyles is bringing up to speed. Sarah’s also been drawn into this Groundhog Day scenario, and Nyles may be partly responsible.

And while this is a very familiar structure — the 1993 Harold Ramis film is beyond culturally significant, it’s become a reference for any case of social perseveration you’d care to mention — Samberg (who also produces with his Lonely Island cronies) inhabits a film that feels more than surprisingly fresh, it’s also impressively affecting. It might even be the year’s funniest comedy.

Nyles has been at this wedding for a long time now. When Sarah shows up, he’s well ensconced. He’s given up hoping for anything better than a day in the sun where there’s no lasting consequences for his tendency to mischief. Sarah becomes our way into this peculiarly un/pleasant purgatory. When you put aside the wedding — and who would want to be stuck forever at a wedding? — it’s maybe not the worst scenario. Oh, except for Roy (JK Simmons), a dude who has a genuine beef with Nyles and shows up to kill him on the regular.

What it ends up being about is how we embrace growth and change, or don’t, depending on where we are in life. It’s also about gratitude, about appreciating what’s right in front of us. And it’s about the redemptive power of love. This is a romantic comedy, after all.

It’s also a ride — given the material and its antecedent, it’s remarkably unpredictable.

I was bowled over by the film, almost as much by the surprise that I enjoyed it so much as by just enjoying it so much. My expectations for a Groundhog Day retread weren’t high, I guess.

I also can’t deny that in 2020, there’s an unearthly resonance to this material — its timing, arriving in a year that’s felt like one long agonizing day, might be what impresses the most. And yet, it’s a loop I look forward to going through again. And again.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.