By Dawson Martin
NOW STREAMING ON HULU
Let’s face it. It’s been an absolute depressing summer (and year) for movies. In normal times we would all be out there at the theater soaking in whatever big budget blockbuster Hollywood had in store for us. This summer has been absolute garbage considering theaters across the country are closed and the big-name movies have mostly been moved to next year. These circumstances have really let the streaming services shine a bit and there’s been a few really good releases this summer overall. The summer film I’d like to highlight today is Hulu’s Palm Springs.
Palm Springs stars Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons. It’s significant to know that this is the directorial debut of Max Barbakow. He should be really proud of the final product and I’m sure this project will lead to more opportunities for him to grow as a filmmaker. The movie follows these characters as they all meet at a wedding, and things grow complicated as they are unable to escape the venue or each other. The story is the classic time loop gimmick made famous by Groundhog Day in the 90’s. We’ve seen so many time loop movies where the character has to live the same day over and over again. You’d think by now this idea would grow tired, but this is where Palm Springs comes in.
This movie takes a familiar concept and makes it feel entirely unique. There are elements of sci-fi and some really creative ideas to bring out the comedy of the situation as well as the unpleasant. Max Barbakow balances this movie so well and it’s really impressive that it feels like a cohesive whole. The romantic comedy angle of this film feels truthful and it never overstays its welcome. It’s believable and actually pretty subtle. The black comedy of this film is right up my alley and is showcased very well. All of this works so perfectly because of the pairing of Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. They both get trapped in this time loop together and must rely on each other to stay sane. I’ll leave J.K. Simmons’ character for you to discover, but it’s a fun one! The standout of this film has got to be Cristin Milioti and she definitely deserves more work in Hollywood. She gives a very casual performance until sometime in the movie when details are revealed about her to the audience and that’s when her performance becomes so complex. Samberg and Milioti are just great together and it’s a pairing I never knew I needed. You’ll remember Milioti as Jordan Belfort’s first wife in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).
Director Max Barbakow starts to slowly reveal secrets and information to the audience about the characters as the movie runs on and it’s a great way to keep us invested. You’re having such a great time and then the movie just keeps revealing more layers to it. I’ve never seen a romantic comedy quite like this and I definitely didn’t expect it to come from a streaming service. Most importantly, this movie is fun and entertaining from the very start.
Palm Springs also delves into the existential themes that I wouldn’t really expect from a movie like this. Pondering about the meaning of life can get serious and sometimes bring down the tone of the movie. It’s interesting to think about your life and it’s meaning if your actions don’t matter, because you wake up and relieve that same day. This comedy can get somber at times and it makes it more than just a one-layer laugh fest.
I loved Palm Springs and it was a total surprise to me. I really admire the talents involved and they elevated the material that was put on screen! If your movie watching this summer hasn’t been very good and you haven’t seen this movie, then you’re missing out on one of the top two films released this summer (check out my Da 5 Bloods review). There’s also some ambiguous stuff with dinosaurs that many people have different takes on. I won’t say my thoughts here, but feel free to message me about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the dinosaurs and Palm Springs. Go to the Hulu app on your smart tv and turn this on before the summer ends. I really think it’ll at least make your quarantine summer a little brighter.
Palm Springs currently has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
My rating: 85% (Really good)
Photo Credit: imdb.com