At first glance, Palm Springs is a charming wedding day romantic comedy. But after about 10 minutes, it becomes something else and from there, you don’t know what to expect. It’s hard to write about the film without giving away spoilers, so if you plan on watching the movie, I suggest you wait until after seeing it to read this. Trust me, going in blind is the best way to experience it.
With that out of the way, Palm Springs establishes that Nyles (Andy Samberg) has been living the same day over and over again. Eventually, a girl named Sarah (Cristin Milioti) is stuck in the time loop as well and from there, shenanigans ensue.
Sarah is the avatar for the audience. She’s new to this situation so understandably, she has a lot of questions. But Nyles doesn’t have many. He’s been in it so long that he no longer seeks answers like, why is this happening to us? Or how do we get out?
Early on in Palm Springs, he reveals that he has no idea how long he’s been stuck in time purgatory and we never get an answer to that question. We know it’s been at least a few weeks based on his knowledge of everyone and everything leading up to the wedding. But according to writer Andy Siara, his time sentence is much longer than you think.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to say exactly, but Nyles was in there for over 40 years,” Siara revealed to Decider. “There are versions of the script where — mainly when Sarah comes in — I put titles in of how much time has passed. The main thing I hope got across was that a lot of time had passed. A lifetime of memories has passed, basically.”
40 years? That much time spent alone would drive anyone loopy and despite some odd behavior, Nyles appears to be quite lucid. He accepts his fate and decides he’s going to live the best life he can even if it means doing it all over again the next day.
Of course, the major challenge to any film in this genre is the ending. Audiences can suspend disbelief for only so long and the way of solving the puzzle often ends with our main characters having some major revelation and course-correcting the timeline. Palm Springs is no different and yet, there’s still a sense of ambiguity.
“I feel like I know exactly what happens. Other people involved in the making of the movie feel something different happened,” Siara confessed. “Therefore, I feel like it’s best to leave it up to the viewer to decide what that final scene actually is.”
In a year when great movies or really, any movies, have been few and far between, this one certainly stands out. It’s a perfectly calibrated mashup of different genres with two outstanding comedic performances from Sandberg and Milioti. And you can watch it right now on Hulu. There may be a constant stream of new content each week, but as far as recent films go, you can’t beat Palm Springs.