Palm Springs

Palm Springs, Hulu's latest original film, is a wacky romantic comedy bolstered by an intriguing story and near-perfect direction. With a refreshing take on the rarely used "infinite time loop" trope, director Max Barbakow is able to keep the film light and funny while filling it to the brim with heart and mystery. From the start, Palm Springs stands out as a screwball comedy, but one that never gets out of hand. Barbakow and writer Andy Siara do a fantastic job of keeping the film grounded. Every day, Nyles (Andy Samberg) wakes up in the middle of an endless time loop. Today is the same as yesterday, and tomorrow will be the same as today. Niles is used to this lifestyle as most days start with margaritas, beer and a relaxing morning at the pool. Life will never truly progress, and Niles takes advantage of the strange situation he finds himself in. Although his life remains stuck in time, everyone around him is operating as normal; his girlfriend and various patrons attending the Palm Springs wedding are all indifferent and unaware of Niles' unusual predicament.

Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the bride's sister and maid of honor, seems to be an outcast in her family, her struggles with drugs, alcohol and her spontaneity have never sat well with those close to her. One night, Sarah becomes addicted to Niles, but an unfortunate run-in with the mysterious Roy (J.K. Simmons) sends the duo on the run, and in Sarah's case, to an endless chasm in time. Palm Springs takes a pretty deep plot and manages to turn it into a light-hearted, funny comedy. There's a lot more on display here than meets the eye as Ciara and Barbakow delve into the monotony of modern marriage, but it's certainly worth considering with some critical afterthought. As the film progresses, there's not much that gets in the way of Samberg and Milioti's comedic chemistry, in addition to a fast-paced story that really never has any downtime. Much of the humor is subtle, usually centered around Samberg's masterful facial reactions, but the film's greatest quality is that it works on many levels of the viewer's understanding. Skillfully combining romance, drama and comedy, Palm Springs is a remarkable achievement by Barbakoff and everyone who worked on the film.

There's no unnecessary fluff in Palm Springs, which makes for a perfect 90-minute viewing experience. The film comes together like a complex, time-traveling puzzle, but one in which the viewer never feels lost or overwhelmed. Sometimes it's nice to watch something that's completely self-aware and direct, but still leaves room for thought. By exploring personal relationships in the context of a fractured universe, Palm Springs cultivates these what-if feelings without pretentiousness or preaching. Palm Springs is an absolute joy to watch as one of Hulu's most popular films.