Hulu’s latest original film, Palm Springs, has been a blockbuster hit since its release in July 2020. Starring SNL and Brooklyn 99 actor Andy Samberg and How I Met Your Mother alum Cristin Milioti, the rom-com takes place on the morning of a wedding day. Again, and again, and again.
The film taps into Black Mirror’s area of expertise, a show well known for its eerie dystopian depiction of mankind, as it follows its two protagonists through the same day on a continuous loop.
Nyles (played by Samberg) has been stuck reliving the day of Tala (Camila Mendes) and Abe’s (played by Tyler Hoechlin) wedding day since stepping foot into an infamous cave. Sarah (played by Milioti), sister of the bride, meets Nyles and rescues him from Roy (J.K. Simmons), another man caught in the time loop.
As he lays on the ground, fatally struck by an arrow, Sarah is sucked into the time loop as well. In the aftermath, Sarah and Nyles reluctantly join forces as she takes on the seemingly-meaningless task of getting them out of their predicament.
Throughout the rest of the film, the pair navigates life in a whole new way, complete with love, redemption, and of course, comedy. The symbolism of the wedding day – the day that is repeated – is something worth noting as the viewer watches the film. It signifies all the components of marriage – trust, loyalty, and above all else, true love.
Tala and Abe, the wedding couple, are merely background actors in the true love story, which is that of Sarah and Nyles. As the pair grow closer, the hilarity of their relationship is unfolded best at the wedding reception, particularly as they interrupt multiple speeches to establish their own narrative.
According to The New York Post, the film holds the title of biggest sale in Sundance Film Festival history, with Hulu and indie film distributor Neon acquiring it for $17.5 million – “It’s easy to see why Hulu and Neon dropped all that cash on it. It’s the stuff of streams.”
Critics have raved about the phenomenal dynamic between Samberg and Milioti – New York Times film critic A.O. Scott writes, “Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti star in a fresh and funny comedy that might remind you of something you saw before.”
Not all critics were thrilled by the film’s content, though. Being an R-rated film, Palm Springs features language and attitudes toward death, violence, sex and other subjects deemed problematic by some reviewers.
Plugged In film critic Emily Clark writes, “I don’t think this is the kind of movie most folks are going to want to loop through repeatedly.”
Both reviews drew comparisons between this movie and Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray-led 1993 film with a similar premise of a repeating day.
Palm Springs is essentially the same kind of comedy as that film – similar themes and story beats run through the plot, but they’re delivered with an updated, more current presentation.
All in all, this is a film that I wouldn’t watch in the middle of the night, when I’m bored of reruns on Showtime. This is the kind of film I would watch with friends, family, or even by myself.
Despite its R-rating, Palm Springs is a rom-com that needs to be watched on movie nights, for the anticipation that viewers get as the opening credits roll can only be paralleled to rising to the precipice of a roller coaster, right before the dramatic plunge.
All in all, I strongly recommend that anyone in need of a good laugh watch this film – it’s definitely worth it.