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  Palm Springs Repeating On You
Year: 2020
Director: Max Barbakow
Stars: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Chris Pang, Jacqueline Obradors, June Squibb, Tongayi Chirisa, Dale Dickey, Connor O'Malley, Jena Friedman, Brian Duffy, Martin Kildare
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Nyles (Andy Samberg) awakens in bed to the sound of his girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner) telling him to "Wake up!", and he compliments her as he sets his sights on a little morning glory, but she does not have the time to complete it. This is because her friend Tala (Camila Mendes) is getting married tonight, and they and friends and family have assembled in this Palm Springs resort to celebrate their union, something Nyles has gotten used to and indeed grown to truly appreciate with the passing of time. Come the big occasion, all is going well until the maid of honour, Tala's sister Sarah (Cristin Milioti) has to give her speech - but Nyles knows what to do, and steps in to rescue her.

All of which sounds like a typical romcom, which Palm Springs was not, since it was in fact a time loop yarn patterned after the daddy of these things, Groundhog Day. It took a while for the culture to start emulating that premise, living the same day over and over again, doubtlessly since everyone was afraid they would be accused of ripping off Groundhog Day, but once they started, they never looked back with the idea applied to science fiction (Edge of Tomorrow) and horror (Happy Death Day and its sequel) among others regardless of what anybody thought about a lack of originality. No wonder, as that culture had more or less given up on trying to be original some time before.

Hence all the sequels and remakes and "inspired bys", but the Groundhog Day imitators offered more variants than, for instance, a Halloween or Friday the 13th copy: Timecrimes is not the same film as Source Code, and Groundhog Day by no means was the first of them. Then there was this, a comedy that sought to get profound in its contemplation of not so much what it would be like to go through the same day endlessly, more what it would be like never to have someone to share your life with, be that through marriage or friendship. It drew the conclusion to be human comes with the obligation to make connections with at least one person down the years, and if you manage more, congratulations.

Although it took a more romantic, some would observe conservative, view of love in that it believed there had to be someone you stood by (or were stuck with) for most of your adult life and did not offer much room to make mistakes that had to be corrected by falling in love with someone more suitable than your initial choice. Once Nyles is established as the victim of this loop, thanks to some vague business to do with a magic cave, the film set about solving his singleton lifestyle by pairing him up with another of the wedding guests, who happened to be Sarah; naturally, she is none too pleased when she accidentally becomes entangled in the loop after expressing concern for Nyles when they were interrupted in pre-sex plans by an arrow in Nyles' back. This is fired by Roy (J.K. Simmons), his mortal enemy who he again, accidentally trapped here.

Roy has not taken this very well, but the simple concept of what you would do if there was more than one person trapped in the loop was very well served by screenwriter Andy Siara who knew when to make things funny, and when to dial back the humour to allow the cosmic loneliness of going through the same routine with nobody to sympathise with you change the mood. It was very well acted, if a little predictably for the type of comedy indie movies leaned towards, but it was a bonus that the jokes were as good as the philosophy, though the agonising implications were somewhat soothed by making Nyles so laidback and unable to take the situation as seriously as he could have done until the threat comes of losing Sarah. They have a whale of a time for a few thousand days, coming up with multiple variations before she realises that an existence devoted to being silly may not be as fulfilling as she thought after the initial shock wore off. Yet perhaps this was a critique of Heaven, where we are supposed to go through one great day for eternity: would we not identify the flaws in that eventually? Music by Matthew Compton, with some slightly unconventional music cues, too.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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