Palm Springs, Hulu’s latest original film, is a wacky romantic comedy highlighted by an intriguing story and near perfect direction. With a refreshing take on the seldomly used “infinite-time-loop” trope, director Max Barbakow is able to keep the movie light and funny, all while filling it to the brim with heart and mystery. From the onset, Palm Springs distinguishes itself as an eccentric comedy, but one that never spins out of control. Barbakow and writer Andy Siara do a fantastic job keeping the film down to earth.
Every day, Nyles (Andy Samberg), wakes up in the midst of an infinite time loop. Today is the same as yesterday, and tomorrow will be the same as today. Nyles has grown accustomed to this lifestyle, as most days start off with a margarita, a beer, and a relaxing morning in the pool. Life will never truly progress, and Nyles takes advantage of the odd situation he finds himself in. Although his life remains stuck in time, everyone else around him operates like normal; his girlfriend and the various patrons present at the Palm Springs wedding venue are all unphased and ignorant to Nyles’ unusual predicament. Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the bride’s sister and maid of honor, seems to be an outcast in her family, her struggles with drugs, alcohol, and her spontaneity never sat well with the people close to her. On a whim one night, Sarah takes a liking to Nyles, but an unfortunate run-in with the mysterious Roy (J.K. Simmons) has the duo running for their lives, and in Sarah’s case, running towards the infinite time chasm.
Palm Springs takes some pretty deep subject matter and is able to spin it into a light-hearted, fun comedy. There is much more presented than it seems at first glance, as Siara and Barbakow delve into the monotony of modern marriage, but this is definitely something to be considered with some critical afterthought. As the movie flows, there is not much in the way of Samberg and Milioti’s comedic chemistry, in addition to the rapidly paced story that really never has any down time. Much of the humor is subtle, usually centered around Samberg’s masterful facial reactions, but the film’s most redeeming quality is that it works on so many levels. By expertly spinning together romance, drama, and comedy, Palm Springs is a wonderful achievement by Barbakow and everyone that worked on this film.
There is not any unnecessary fluff included in Palm Springs, something that contributes towards the perfectly paced 90-minute run time. The movie is crafted together like an intricate, time-traveling puzzle, but one in which the viewer will never feel lost or overwhelmed. Sometimes it is nice to watch something that is totally self-aware and direct, yet still leaves some room for thought long after the credits roll. By examining personal relationships in the context of a fractured universe, Palm Springs cultivates those feelings of “what-if” without being pretentious or preachy. An absolute joy to watch, Palm Springs positions itself as one of Hulu’s must-see films.