Palm Springs

  • 04 Jul - 10 Jul, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Nyles (Andy Samberg) is a nihilistic unpleasant person stuck in Palm Springs for a wedding he really, really doesn’t want to go to, with a girlfriend he really, really doesn’t like. Sarah (Cristin Milioti) is the bride’s sister and maid of honour – and she wants to be there even less. They’re both frustrated screw-ups, unhappy with life and love, and thus naturally drawn to one another.

Let's leap past some fun stuff to the punchline: When we meet Nyles, he has already lived hundreds or thousands of iterations of the day. As he is drawn to Sarah, he swoops over to her and convinces her to sneak off into the hills with him. The next morning, when Nyles awakens to the same sights he's seen countless times, Sarah's having the same experience in another room. She's now trapped in this day as well, and (as will be explained later in the film), she has many more reasons to dread the wedding day than he does. She's furious with Nyles, who eventually calms things down enough to explain he has already tried every possible way to end this phenomenon. "We have no choice," he assures her, but to "learn how to suffer existence." Nyles’s lackadaisical, nothing-matters attitude seems like the only way to survive. But maybe there are life lessons to be learned here.

To compare Palm Springs to other movies would be to give away the delightful concept, and we don’t want to do that. But we can say it’s a twist on an old comedic formula meant to explore where life’s meaning truly resides, and whether it’s better to take risks in life or just coast along trying to survive.

Palm Springs is not groundbreaking or quite as compulsively quotable as some of Lonely Island’s previous outings. But it is an oddly perceptive effort, a movie that feels primed in particular for millennial audiences just starting to creep toward middle age who are trying to sort out what life really means, and how best to live it. Zinging between humour and poignance with a lot of charm, it achieves in its most insightful moments what comedy does best: Let us laugh at the world a little, by way of learning something about ourselves.