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Palm Springs puts a twist on Groundhog Day 

Max Barbakow (Mommy, I'm a Bastard) directs Andy Siara's debut feature-length screenplay about wedding guest Nyles (Andy Samberg) and reluctant maid of honor Sarah (Christin Milioti), whose chance encounter traps her in Nyles' Groundhog Day-like time loop. (90 min.)

click to enlarge STUCK ON YOU Sarah (Christin Milioti) and Nyles (Andy Sandberg) are stuck in a time loop together, forced to repeat the same day over and over, in the new comedy Palm Springs, screening on Hulu. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LIMELIGHT
  • Photo Courtesy Of Limelight
  • STUCK ON YOU Sarah (Christin Milioti) and Nyles (Andy Sandberg) are stuck in a time loop together, forced to repeat the same day over and over, in the new comedy Palm Springs, screening on Hulu.

Glen Well-explored in director Harold Ramis' 1993 comedy classic Groundhog Day, this new time-loop film puts Samberg in the Bill Murray role of a misfit forced to live the same day over and over again. The difference is Nyles' time loop can, and does, trap others inside. It starts when Nyles gets up and stands in for Sarah, saving her from the embarrassment of giving a maid-of-honor speech about her sister, Tala (Camila Mendes) and new brother-in-law, Abe (Tyler Hoechlin). Nyles says all the right things and saves the day for Sarah, and over the course of the night Nyles woos Sarah into falling for him. Things go sideways, however, when bow-toting stalker Roy (J.K. Simmons) shows up and starts firing arrows into Nyles. As he makes his escape, Sarah follows Nyles into a cave despite his protestations, and the next morning she awakens to her sister's wedding day ... again. What follows is Sarah's desperate attempt to break the loop, something Nyles has obviously given up on after years of attempts. Nyles spends each repeated day drinking and perfecting his nihilist swagger. Literally nothing matters. If he's killed, he simply wakes up to the same day. Despite this being a retread of a much better film, it's still very entertaining as we see Sarah go through the same emotional roller coaster Nyles has mastered, and we watch Nyles enjoy a carefree lifestyle devoid of consequence.

Anna At first we wake up with Nyles and his bridesmaid girlfriend, Misty, and there just seems to be something off with him—but not in a creepy way, just a wildly quirky, fun-loving enigma vibe. After saving Sarah from an unplanned speech, he struts around the dance floor saving grandpa from passing out on the floor with a well-timed chair move and peacocks his way around with cocktail always in hand. Samberg is simply hilarious, giving off a blend of cool-guy dork that doesn't come off as grating. Milioti shows some real comedic talent here too—her deadpan expression and scathing retorts keep up with Samberg's quirky character. From utterly unbelievable to panic to, "Eh, let's just have fun with this!" the two make the most of their same-day adventure. Soon enough, feelings start stepping in the way of their friendship though, and when Sarah finds out that Nyles has been less than totally truthful, she finds a way to escape him every day. I laughed a lot during this flick, and while the idea may be recycled, I enjoyed the ride these two take us on.

Glen Like Groundhog Day, both Nyles and Sarah have some maturing and growing to do, but their big difference is Sarah is willing to change while Nyles seems resigned to ride out eternity getting drunk and having fun with his power over his environment. Just as Murray's self-involved weatherman Phil became an expert at navigating his repeated day, Nyles has his day wired. He honestly makes the best of it. Every morning he wakes up at a destination wedding where the free booze is flowing, where he starts his day with cocktails in the pool, and where the most effort required is avoiding his vapid girlfriend, Misty (Meredith Hagner), staying out of the hair of the bride's parents, Howard (Peter Gallagher) and Pia (Jacqueline Obradors), and avoiding archenemy, Roy, who we learn in backstory also got sucked into Nyles' time loop. While not as poignant as Groundhog Day, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and until the theaters reopen, this is as good as we're likely to get.

Anna It's a storyline that can easily get repetitive, but here it stays pretty fun. Nyles is resigned to staying in the loop, but Sarah refuses to just accept her fate stuck in the same day. Once the two part company, she delves into every possible way to get out of the same day—even if it means facing the totally unknown on the other side. Roy is a delightful addition to the cast of characters, and while he is first spiteful over his fate, he soon learns that the life he has really isn't so bad. Instead of going after Nyles, he can spend his eternity with his wife and children. Maybe it's bittersweet that he won't get to walk his daughter down the aisle or see his kids graduate from school, but if he gets to spend his time with them in eternal bliss, perhaps letting go of his anger is a bigger and better choice. It's sweet and funny, and when we're all feeling like we're living in a bit of a Groundhog Day situation through quarantine, it's a solid film to spend your time with. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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