Palm Springs (2020 film)
Palm Springs is a 2020 American romantic comedy film directed by Max Barbakow (in his directorial debut) and written by Andy Siara. It stars Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, Peter Gallagher, and J. K. Simmons, and follows two strangers who meet at a Palm Springs wedding only to get stuck in a time loop.
Official promotional poster
|Directed by||Max Barbakow|
|Screenplay by||Andy Siara|
|Music by||Matthew Compton|
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020, and was released in select theaters by Neon and digitally on Hulu on July 10, 2020. The film received positive reviews from critics, with many praising the performances of the cast and use of the concept.
On November 9, Nyles wakes up next to his girlfriend Misty on the wedding day of Tala and Abe. At the reception, he delivers a seemingly impromptu speech, to the relief of Tala's sister, the drunk and unprepared maid-of-honor Sarah. Nyles and Sarah bond and, after discovering Misty cheating on Nyles, are about to have sex when Nyles is abruptly shot in the shoulder with an arrow by an older man named Roy. Wounded, he crawls toward a mysterious amber light in a nearby cave, warning Sarah not to follow. Sarah, curious, is sucked into a vortex in the cave.
Sarah wakes up, again, on November 9. After she confronts Nyles, he explains that she has become stuck in the same time loop as him. Sarah unsuccessfully attempts many escape methods, such as driving back to her hometown or suicide. Nyles and Sarah spend many days together, often relaxing in the pool of a home where the occupants are away on vacation. Nyles reveals that Roy is a family man who lives in Irvine, whom Nyles also trapped in the time loop after a night of partying. He occasionally comes to Palm Springs to hunt Nyles for revenge.
After many more loops, Nyles and Sarah camp out in the desert, and eventually have sex. The next day, Abe wakes Sarah up, advising her to leave his room (having spent the night of November 8 together). A guilt-ridden Sarah refuses to talk to Nyles about their previous night, expressing that everything they do is meaningless. They are pulled over by a police officer, who turns out to be Roy. Sarah runs over Roy in his police car, and after an argument, Nyles admits that he had sex with Sarah numerous times before she entered the time loop, something that he had lied about before. A disgusted Sarah runs in front of an oncoming truck, killing herself and restarting the day.
After the next reset, Nyles goes looking for Sarah to apologize, but he cannot find her. Lying in Abe's bed while the groomsmen take drugs, Nyles smells Sarah's perfume on his pillows and realizes that Sarah and Abe had sex the night before the wedding. He confronts Abe during the wedding, and a fight breaks out between Nyles and Abe. Multiple resets later, Nyles realizes that he loves Sarah. He travels to Irvine to talk to Roy, who has given up on killing Nyles. Roy explains that his life is perfect but also imperfect, as he lives in the perfect day forever, but will never get to see the future or his children grow up. Roy says that they should never speak again, and Nyles asks Roy to murder him one last time.
The time loops where Sarah was gone are then shown, Sarah confronts Abe over their affair, and both express their regret and remorse. Sarah then resolves to escape the time loop, spending many days in a diner studying quantum physics and talking with professors, finally coming to a solution. She wakes Nyles up and tells him she believes she knows how to escape the time loop by blowing themselves up in the cave before they restart the day. Nyles admits he loves Sarah but wants to stay in the time loop forever, where he knows how everything will work precisely. She leaves him in the room alone, and a frustrated Nyles breaks up with Misty.
Sarah attends the wedding, gives a heartfelt speech for Tala, and is complimented by Nana Schlieffen, who wishes her well on her attempt, revealing she is also in the loop. Sarah makes a phone call to Roy, and goes to the cave with explosives. Drinking alone in a bar, Nyles decides to leave with her and rushes to the cave, professing he would rather die with her than remain in the loop alone. Sarah reciprocates his feelings, and they kiss while she presses the detonator. Nyles and Sarah again lounge in the vacant pool when the house owners show up, revealing it is November 10, and the plan worked.
In a mid-credits scene, Roy approaches Nyles at the wedding, asking about Sarah's plan to escape the loop. When Nyles does not recognize Roy, Roy realizes the plan has worked and smiles.
- Andy Samberg as Nyles, Misty's boyfriend and Sarah's love interest
- Cristin Milioti as Sarah Wilder, Tala's sister, Howard's daughter and Nyles' love interest
- J. K. Simmons as Roy
- Peter Gallagher as Howard Wilder, Sarah and Tala's father and Pia's husband
- Meredith Hagner as Misty, Nyles' girlfriend and Tala's bridesmaid
- Camila Mendes as Tala Anne Wilder, Sarah's sister and Howard and Pia's daughter
- Tyler Hoechlin as Abraham Eugene Trent "Abe" Schlieffen, Tala's fiancé and Nana's grandson
- Chris Pang as Trevor, the wedding officiant
- Jacqueline Obradors as Pia Wilder, Sarah's stepmother and Howard's wife
- June Squibb as Nana Schlieffen, Abe's grandmother
- Tongayi Chirisa as Jerry, a groomsman
- Dale Dickey as Darla
- Conner O'Malley as Randy, a groomsman
- Clifford V. Johnson as himself (cameo appearance)
Andy Siara wrote the first draft of the script during his second year as a film student at AFI, and did not include elements of science fiction. He said the script originally had more in common with Leaving Las Vegas than Groundhog Day, and the script was deliberately limited so that it would be something they might actually be able to make. Siara went on to write for the television show Lodge 49 and redeveloped the script into a more ambitious project. While Groundhog Day was a fundamentally important starting point for the use of a time loop in a romantic comedy, Barbakow and Siara knew they needed to distance their script from the film. This led to starting with Nyles already within the time loop, making the film like "a sequel to a movie that doesn't exist" according to Siara, and then adding Sarah as a second character within the loop to serve as a point of navigation for the audience.
The project was announced in November 2018 after it secured a tax credit to film in California, however due to the limitations of that tax credit, they were forced to film in Los Angeles area rather than Palm Springs. Andy Samberg was revealed as starring in the film. In March 2019, Cristin Milioti and J. K. Simmons joined the cast. Camila Mendes was added in April.
Palm Springs had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2020. Shortly after, Neon and Hulu acquired distribution rights to the film. Neon and Hulu reportedly paid $17.5 million for the film, breaking the previous record for the highest sale from a film from Sundance by $0.69. Later reports put the deal closer to $22 million after guarantees were factored in.
The film was released in the United States digitally on Hulu and in select drive-in theaters on July 10, 2020. Hulu claimed that the film also set the opening weekend record by "netting more hours watched over its first three days than any other film" in the platform's history.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 93% of 168 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 8.05/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Strong performances, assured direction, and a refreshingly original concept make Palm Springs a romcom that's easy to fall in love with." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich gave the film a grade B+ and praised the film for cleverly reworking the Groundhog Day formula: "The movie always seems on the brink of biting off more than a super energetic 90-minute comedy can chew, and the sheer momentum of the storytelling doesn't give the story time to slow down." Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a positive review, and wrote: "Palm Springs is to time-loop movies as Zombieland was to the undead genre: It's an irreverent take on a form where earlier iterations were obliged to take themselves seriously." Vince Mancini of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, saying: "Palm Springs is the perfect kind of art-comedy. It comes on like a brilliantly silly little lark and eventually lands on you like a ton of bricks."
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