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Film Review: Palm Springs (2021)

IMDb Link: Palm Springs (2020)
Director: Max Barbakow
Writers: Andy Siara, Max Barbakow
Starring: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons

Synopsis: Stuck in a time loop, two wedding guests develop a budding romance while living the same day over and over again.

Every year, there is a film that releases quite early in the US and other regions of the world whilst the UK has to wait until the following year to get. The 2020/2021 year has been especially horrible for this as many studios wait for cinemas to re-open to show the film across the borders. However, Palm Springs was not a film that was waiting for the cinemas to re-open, but was instead just one of those films that the UK had to wait ages for the official release. This especially hurt me as someone who is a huge Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island fan, supporting Brooklyn Nine-Nine for years.

I will say though that this is a perfect film to play outside of the winter season and heading into a warm summer. In a year where many of us miss holidays and warm weather and being able to meet up in large groups, being able to live in this bubble of a world where there are wedding receptions, lounging by the pool and being able to relive this sunny day in Palm Springs over and over again and captured through some stunning shots whilst doing so.

Yes, we all know the concept is heavily inspired by Groundhog Day and it is far from original. However, I must have a thing for the Groundhog Day formula as previous projects such as Edge of Tomorrow and Supernatural season 3 episode “Mystery Spot” also work incredibly well for me. Whilst they all have the same core structure of re-living a single day, they all take a different approach to the storytelling in terms of genre and the main focus of the narrative itself.

As a romantic comedy, this film only works when the two lead performances are as strong as they are here. I have loved Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti for years for their respected sit-com appearances in Brooklyn Nine-Nine and How I Met Your Mother, so I did not doubt their comedic abilities. However, it is their chemistry that works so well and develops so naturally over this time, with Milioti actually being the standout. This is accompanied by a wonderful performance from J.K. Simmons, who gets to have a lot of fun and still add some drama to the story.

When people were discussing this film’s potential award pathway, most of the time it came down to the Original Screenplay by Andy Siara. However, it is easy to see why it got into the screenplay category in a few shows and why people fell in love with the film as a comedy. Not only is the humour so sharp and the characters so likeable, but it is easy to buy into the idea of the time loop and the significance of this particular wedding being the centre of it all. The way this screenplay is written is so well done, especially for a first feature screenplay by Siara.

Quite simply, this is the best comedy to be released since, well, The Lonely Island’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. The short 90-minute runtime goes by so quickly as you easily fall in love with the characters, buy into their relationship, and follow them on this journey to try and escape the time loop. It is the vacation experience we all craved this past year and it is a beauty to watch from start to finish. We may have had to wait nine months for this to release in the UK, but it was certainly worth it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Palm Springs is available to watch on Amazon Prime from April 9th.

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