Palm Springs (4 stars)

Palm Springs

A wedding on repeat is the setting for Max Barbakow's fun time-loop comedy, starring Andy Samberg

Released hot on the heels of the remarkably similar The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (in the UK at least), but shot nearly a year before it, Palm Springs is an irresistibly energetic and swaggeringly sardonic slice of sci-fi cinema featuring loveable screen nincompoop Andy Samberg, best known for his work in sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Nominated for two Golden Globes and the winner of various critics' prizes, it's the narrative feature debut of Max Barbakow, who arrives onto the filmmaking scene in style.

Samberg plays Nyles, who is attending the Palm Springs wedding of Tala and Abe (Camila Mendes and Tyler Hoechlin) with his bridesmaid girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner). Also there is Cristin Milioti's Sarah, the black-sheep sister of the bride, who is acting as the maid of honour. Nyles is behaving strangely, he's able to anticipate what the other guests are about to do and say and seems unusually carefree; it quickly transpires that he's stuck in a time-loop and has been living out this day, over and over for quite some time. It's not long before Sarah joins him in the predicament, alongside one other person, JK Simmons's mysterious Roy.

Fans of Samberg's affable but idiotic persona will get their money's worth here, the role is a snug fit for the nonchalant performer; Nyles has long grown accustomed to his unfortunate circumstances and is able to have a laugh with it and take it largely in his stride. Milioti is perhaps less recognisable, although you may remember her from The Wolf of Wall Street (where she played the first wife of Leonardo DiCaprio's character), or the second season of TV's Fargo. Her character has the more interesting arc, as we watch Sarah come to terms with the situation in the midst of some unenviable complications, and she brings an appealingly droll sense of disbelief to her scenes, alongside some believable emotional exhaustion.

As Sarah and Nyles daringly push the limits of what's possible and go way beyond what's sensible, Barbakow encourages you to revel in the insanity, with hilarious montages haring through their often-dangerous experimentation, exploits that are all-too-easily wiped clean; things get pretty twisted against a background of popping colour and a perpetually bemused bridal party. Although the pair might seem jaded, Palm Springs gradually chips away at their veneer of cynicism to reveal something softer. The premise might be pure fantasy but it's a rom-com at heart.

Available to watch on Amazon Prime Video from Fri 9 Apr.

Palm Springs

  • 4 stars
  • 2020
  • US
  • 1h 30min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Max Barbakow
  • Written by: Andy Siara, Max Barbakow
  • Cast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Peter Gallagher, J. K. Simmons
  • UK release: 9 April 2021

Both Sarah (Cristin Milioti) and Nyles (Andy Samberg) must endure a wedding in Palm Springs. As the day continues, Sarah realises that Nyles can predict exactly what everyone will say and do. Sarah realises he's stuck in a time-loop and now she is too. As they relive the same day again and again, a romance develops…