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‘Palm Springs’ is the quarantine movie we didn’t know we needed

and | Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Jackie Junco | The Observer

If five months ago, someone had said the most relatable movie of the summer would be a “Groundhog Day”-esque rom-com set in the middle of the desert, most of the world would have been paralyzed with fear. Still, amidst the pandemic and ensuing months in quarantine, the Lonely Island-produced vehicle catapulted into our summer at the start of July with “Palm Springs” — to rave reviews and to the joy of audiences worldwide.

The film, starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, is full of plot twists and emotional turns — mainly, the shift in tone from nihilism to the realization that loving someone can change your outlook on life. “Palm Springs” is the existential romantic comedy that became the biggest sale ever at Sundance — by 69 cents. And that right there is a stellar exemplification of the movie itself: It outsells every other film and takes on heart, depth and more, but still leaves some room for classic Lonely Island-style rated-R jokes, proving that romance and immature humor aren’t — and shouldn’t be — mutually exclusive. 

The premise of the movie isn’t exactly new: Nyles, played by Samberg, and Sarah, Millotti, become trapped in “one of those infinite time-loop situations you might have heard about,” as Nyles says to Sarah. The day being repeated? The wedding of Sarah’s seemingly perfect sister and her equally perfect fiance in Palm Springs. And really, that’s all we should tell you plot-wise. The movie is best enjoyed spoiler-free, as to fully appreciate the different twists and turns that make the story all the more exciting — and heartwarming.

Samberg, with his charm, humor and good looks, proves in this film that he can hold his own not only as a comic lead, but as a romantic one. The chemistry between him and Milotti is effortless, and the viewer can’t help but be charmed by their antics: a choreographed dance number (complete with matching outfits), insane stunts and lots of drunken adventures. But the two leads are not the only members of the cast who deserve commendation: supporting actors J.K. Simmons, Camila Mendes, Peter Gallagher and more add to the film’s raunchy-yet-tender humor and heart. 

The idea of being “stuck together,” whether in an infinite time loop or in quarantine, is almost too relatable at the moment. Rather than decrying the monotony that can stem from long-term relationships, “Palm Springs” suggests that being stuck with someone isn’t as bad as it seems. In fact, the film shows that maybe knowing someone well enough to get sick of them is a blessing rather than a curse. Whether or not you’re literally stuck with someone, or seemingly stuck in your own life, “Palm Springs” tells us you can always change your circumstances through a shift in mindset. 

This is a film you’ll want to view more than once — both to catch more of the mile-a-minute jokes and to attempt to understand what exactly has happened in the handful of plot twists, quantum physics and nuanced, emotional moments. For an even more “WTF” moment, be sure to watch after the credits.

Overall, “Palm Springs” attempts to assign meaning to a seemingly-meaningless world, a theme that, in the era of COVID-19, is more relevant than ever. To quote Sarah, “I can survive just fine without you, you know. But there’s a chance that this life can be a little less mundane with you in it.”

Maybe, just maybe, that’s the point of it all.

Shamrocks: 4.5 

If you like: “Brooklyn-99,” “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” “Groundhog Day”

Where to watch: Hulu

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About Claire Rafford

Claire is a senior from Tempe, Arizona majoring in English and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy and Business-Economics. She peaked when her team won the Battle of the Books state championship in 2011.

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About Mariah Rush

Mariah is a senior majoring in American Studies and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She is from the great city of South Bend, and was the Managing Editor of The Observer for the 2020-2021 school year. You can find her always on Twitter at @mariahfrush.

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