On a grey, British July day in the midst of the supposed ‘freedom era’ of the COVID-19 pandemic…I came across Palm Springs with Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. The trailer looked wacky but just what I needed when feeling a little…out of sorts.
We wake up with Andy’s character, Nyles and his annoying girlfriend, with an annoying name: Misty, with whom he suffers the most unromantic sex life. They’re in Palm Springs for a wedding, where Nyles seems totally detached from reality and has no shame in committing the most awkward of faux pas, such as cutting in to make a speech, as the boyfriend of a friend, of the bride. The troubled sister of the bride, Sarah finds Nyles’ demeanour intriguing and the two ditch the celebrations for some steamy rendezvous by a cave.
It’s only when Sarah awakes the next day which looks eerily like the previous day, that she realises that something isn’t right. Upon confronting Nyles, the two strike up an odd but endearing friendship that puts an interesting spin on the, ‘if I were the last guy/gal on earth…would you?’ thing.
( It helps they are both very attractive and do not appear to have aged, at all)
The characters are complex and both have faults that are dislikable, yet somehow they redeem themselves, independently. The film is a brilliant twist on the romantic comedy genre, as well as offering a fresh take on time-lapse, quantum physics, groundhog day themes. It begs moral questions surrounding ideas of what humans are comfortable with, in terms of the world around them and how we adjust, given the boundaries set before us. The film shows two people who have to confront not only each other but themselves and how they react to a weird, weird time in their life.
It journeys through self-reflection, lawless lifestyles in an anarchistic desert land, and how to speed learn the study of matter and energy at its most fundamental level. All of that, with some romance in there, for good measure. I liked that Sarah’s character was flawed, and not just Nyles, however the point at which her flaw is revealed left me feeling a little disappointed. The set-up was brilliant, as she confided in Nyles that she had tried the conventional way of life, as was societally expected of women her age, it just didn’t work. The big reveal, however, situated her right in that stereotype of a wild, jealous sister, off the rails and committing the worst of sins.
Overall, it was a hit for me, as I guess I’ll still be waiting for a ‘perfectly balanced feminist movie’ that’s enjoyable.
It had all of the ingredients for an easy watch. Samberg was captivating and I thought he balanced the comedy with depth, which is not something I always get from him as he leans so far into that satirical but overt American humour. J.K Simmons executed the unhinged old guy character brilliantly and Nebraska’s own June Squibb plays an old Nana with a surprisingly important and pivotal piece of dialogue at the end.
Available on Amazon Prime now, go watch, get lost in it, have a chuckle…why not? There’s not much else to do.