Palm Springs seems to set up a different type of premise for star Andy Samberg. Nyles (Samberg) is a carefree guy forced to attend a wedding. When he meets Sarah (Cristin Milloti), the two form a bond based on mutual circumstances. Romantic comedies like these are a dime a dozen. Aloof boy meets troubled girl. The things other people dislike about them brings them together. An obstacle is encountered then overcome. There is soul searching, an epiphany, then the two end up happily ever after.
Many of those same tropes will be found here. But it does enough things differently to set itself apart from the pack. The plot adds elements that will catch audiences off guard constantly. It is not long before the movie’s first major twist. It turns out Nyles is not just another too cool for school character. It turns out he is stuck in a time loop and has resigned himself to his (lack of) future.
This revelation adds a fun wrinkle to the standard rom com formula. It is not that Nyles is a standard weird character who lives life by his own rules. He knows what is going to happen making the defeatist/smarmy attitude make sense. The science fiction aspect of Palm Springs makes everything about it more refreshing. Not only does Nyles have added depth, but Sarah is a different type of love interest. For example, is it truly love when there are no other options?
This is the central theme to the movie. It makes everything else Palm Springs does that much more engaging. There is the expected montage of the two becoming closer. Due to the situation it adds an unexpected element of sadness. What seems like it should be a repetitive idea instead brings more emotion. Each time Nyles and Sarah share a genuine breakthrough is especially heartwarming. Every setback is more depressing than similar movies.
Palm Springs makes it work thanks to some fantastic writing. The script does a great job of making sure the setting never gets tiresome while also making audiences care about everything that is happening. The jokes rarely miss and the two main characters are incredibly likable. In order for a rom com to work – no matter what the circumstances are- the audience has to want the potential couple to get together. That is absolutely the case here.
It can be a risk adding a new element to a tried a true formula. Palm Springs brings a new twist to the popular romantic comedy genre. The easy comparison would be 1993’s Groundhog Day. Aside from the basic premise, the two have little in common. Thanks to its realistic characters and fun premise, it is a movie that is worth seeing over and over.