Hulu’s ‘Palm Springs’ is a Beautiful, Soulful, and Cinematic Comedy

Published on July 13, 2020

Palm Springs is a dark, soulful comedy about making the same mistakes again and having to face them. While the Lonely Island production is a riff on Groundhog Day, director Max Barbakow’s movie has enough emotion, laughs, and conflicts to stand on its own. Starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, the comedy is the best movie Hulu has released thus far.

Read Nothing About Palm Springs

Yes, read nothing about Palm Springs as you’re reading a review of Palm Springs. It is a movie best to experience fresh and knowing nothing about it. The movie surprises from beginning to end. It wastes no time twisting and turning expectations upside down. A part of entertainment value is its unpredictability. It’s always refreshing to watch a movie and be along for the ride and never thinking ahead or back but only about the scene in front of you. 

With That Said

The movie manages to surprise while still hitting some conventional beats. Without revealing too much about the story, Palm Springs is about Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) stuck in a time loop. They relieve a wedding day over and over again. The pair lose track of time. They pick up new skills. Most important of all, they either grow or regress. 

Nyles and Sarah’s journeys are perfect for the Groundhog Day story. They’re two people who kept making the same mistakes in life. They haven’t changed. What if they never changed? That’s what the world shows them: how horrible it’d be to never learn and grow and do better. Without spoiling much, they learn about themselves in ways that resonate. It’s a fantastical situation with deeply real feelings, fears, and emotions. There’s an honesty to this fantasy movie. 

Palm Springs is Hell

The location is perfect for this story of highs and lows, too. Palm Springs, California, is both a beautiful and brutal place. The sights are wonderful, but the heat is intense. The heat is always on, which is great for this existential story. With the location and the sights, Palm Springs is the rare comedy that looks beautiful. Most comedies are not atmospheric or visually engaging, but this is a movie full of color, life, and atmosphere. It has an energy to it so rarely seen from the genre.

Dance, Dance, Dance

As dark as the movie gets, it’s loaded with fun. There’s so much dancing in this movie. For whatever reason, a good dance sequence can just light up a movie. When done well, it’s so joyful, and Palm Springs does it well. From Andy Samberg’s first tango on the dance floor to a dance off between him and Milioti, there are so many crowd-pleasing moments in the movie. The fun and laughs go along perfectly with the existential despair and self-loathing, too. The tone of the movie is perfectly calibrated. It knows exactly when to go for a laugh or to let uncomfortable feelings simmer. Structurally, Palm Springs is a pleasure.

A Rewarding Comedy

Palm Springs is a fun and thought-provoking watch, but it’s with time that the movie starts to grow and take shape as a truly meaningful comedy. It’s not a movie to laugh about and forget about once it’s over. It leaves you with thoughts and feelings to wrestle with, which is very much welcomed in a comedy. Flaws and all, the movie and characters are lovable. Samberg and Milioti’s charisma goes a long way there. The two of them are dynamite together. They have the star charisma that keeps your eyes glued to a screen, believing every word they say no matter the ridiculousness of their situation. They help make Palm Springs an exceptional comedy for our times.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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