Palm Springs (Review)

Groundhog Day was a groundbreaking romantic comedy and now is a genre in its own right. The better time loop comedies, and Palm Springs is one of them, recognise the metaphorical potential as well as the comedic potential of the premise and spread themselves evenly over both sides.

This film is a great balancing act. It is easily read as a parable for getting stuck in a rut, for giving into nihilism, for life’s repetitions, and how the way out is human connection. It also touches beautifully on how others share our burdens, even if we don’t know. We are never truly alone yet we also are blind to the baggage of others. It also deals with the trials, tribulations and highs of long term relationships and commitments in general, and how to find joy in what seems like a joyless life.

But, also, it’s a very creative and silly comedy. The film makes the most of its looping premise: Andy Samberg’s main character lives the same day every day. So far, so familiar, but the film twists it by bringing the female lead, Cristin Miloti, into the time loop also. This makes for a different comedy dynamic than Groundhog Day, and also allows for different themes. The end result is a great comedic double act with terrific chemistry that partake in a series of fun sketches.

The humour is silly, but always creative, and is mixed with real heart. It knows never to punch down, displays a social conscience and finds joy in the little things. It also knows not to outstay its welcome with a tight ninety minute runtime. But, again, it’s the balancing act that makes this shine.

This is a philosophical film that explores an existential premise; this is a romantic film with a lovely central relationship and this is a silly comedy with fun gags. It is all these things at once and each aspect feeds the other, or provides levity. It also has a great soundtrack and is pretty sharp looking. Is J K Simmons great in it? Well, he is in it and is always great – and could be in it more, to be honest.

There are elements that are under baked and it is a film of consistency more than of great highs. But, ultimately, it is a delightful film that makes for an easy watch while also keeping the mind engaged – another difficult balancing act that this pulls off with ease.

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