Palm Springs 2020
Palm Springs' philosophy about first finding yourself, then a special someone, makes it much more than just a typical rom-com.

Directed by Max Barbakow, Palm Springs follows Nyles and Sarah who after meeting each other at her sister’s wedding, find themselves stuck in a time loop that could last beyond an entire lifetime.

Andy Samberg’s character Nyles says early on in the film, “Today, tomorrow, yesterday, it’s all the same.” Conversations like these are essentially why Palm Springs is much more than just a typical rom-com. Not just from its premise but rather from its philosophies on existentialism. Palm Springs is firstly about finding yourself, then the special someone.

What works

Despite having an unconventional premise to it, most of what the film talks about are relevant in regular life. Characters do struggle to find purpose. They even hit rock bottom despite living in a world that should inherently never challenge them. Palm Springs confidently discusses and raises questions about human nature and existentialism whilst feeling fresh and humorous.

All this philosophy is wrapped in a cozy summer vibe. One that makes you want to dip in some water and drink something fruity. The film is mostly shot either on a bright sunny day or on nights with enough warm lighting, retaining the effect of summer vacation. Full of vibrant colors right down to Samberg’s beach shirt, the entire film is a soothing treat to the eyes.

The film is also hilarious on many occasions. Most of the humor comes from the premise itself and the exciting chemistry between Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. A world with no consequences allows both leads to be as ‘unfiltered’ as they can be, creating some hilarious sequences.

They also feel very distinct from the way they handle this situation and their exchanges on life are thought-provoking and heart-warming. The entire supporting cast feels purposeful, particularly J.K. Simmons, who gives a very memorable performance despite having less than 10 minutes of screen time.

What didn’t work

The one major criticism that stands out is Samberg’s Nyles lacking nuance when compared to Milioti’s Sarah. The film has an explanation for it that is plausible but also feels very convenient. It makes Nyles’ views on life seem rather pedestrian compared to the complexities in Sarah’s life. Feeling like someone who would lack purpose in regular life, making him seem rather dull in comparison to the ambitious and curious Sarah. Fortunately, Samberg brings enough charm in his performance that keeps Nyles entertaining if not intriguing.

The Verdict

Palm Springs is a tad too cheesy considering its ideas about existentialism and relationships but combines an exciting premise with great chemistry from its two leads, all wrapped in a cozy summer vibe.